Today in Transportation History – 1959: Opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge

One of New Zealand’s best-known bridges was made its official debut on the North Island. The Auckland Harbour Bridge, which was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, spans Auckland Harbour (formally called Waitematā Harbour) and connects the Auckland suburbs of Saint Marys Bay and Northcote.

Lord Cobham (Charles John Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham), New Zealand’s Governor-General, played a large role in the dedication ceremony for the bridge. He gave a highly optimistic speech with the glowing title “Joy of Creative Achievement,” and his automobile became the first one to travel across the bridge. The hopeful spirit of the day was also reflected by the bridge’s superintendent D.G. McPherson. In his first entry for the daily log book for the new structure, he wrote, “May it never close.” The bridge was opened to general traffic by mid-afternoon, with 3,787 vehicles crossing it during the first hour alone. More than 20,000 vehicles altogether crossed the bridge by the end of the day.

The eight-lane box truss bridge, which is operated by the NZ Transport Agency, is part of State Highway 1 and the Auckland Northern Parkway. The 3,348-foot-long structure is the second-longest road bridge in all of New Zealand and the longest on the North Island.

Photo courtesy of Archives New Zealand.

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