Ophir Bridge

Constructed between 1879 and 1880, this attractive structure is a characteristic example of Central Otago suspension bridges with schist masonry towers.

Crossing the Manuherikia River west of Ophir, the Daniel O’Connell Bridge is a single lane road bridge providing access to that Central Otago town.

As was the case elsewhere in the region, gold was the reason many people originally came to Ophir, a town initially called Blacks. Even when the gold industry began declining in the 1870s there was a relatively sizeable population in the Ophir district, and it was a key commercial and communication centre. As such, local people campaigned hard for a bridge to be built over the potentially hazardous Manuherikia River from the time the Vincent County Council was established.

The result was that in 1878 the Vincent County Engineer, Leslie Duncan Macgeorge (1854-1939), designed the 65.5 metre bridge, which was constructed by J. S. Derby and R. Edgar of Timaru. The cost of the bridge was approximately £7,000. At the opening of this structure in May 1880, the bridge was named after Irish hero, Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847). This was an appropriate and seemingly popular choice, because the bridge was located in an area heavily populated by Irish Catholic immigrants.