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The Kawarau Bridge project site includes two lunch-room containers, an ablution block, three mini cube containers for storing tools, and a dangerous goods container

No such thing as a bridge too far with the help of shipping containers

Work to replace Queenstown’s iconic Kawarau Falls Bridge with a two-lane bridge has presented many challenges for the developers – but they have overcome the elements, and a river running 43 m below, with the help of shipping containers from Royal Wolf.


The new 250 m long Kawarau Falls Bridge will be located just downstream from the old one-lane bridge which is perhaps best known as one of the country’s ultimate bungy jumping destinations. 

Mark De La Rosa, project administrator at McConnell Dowell, says building a bridge is never an easy task, even in ideal conditions, and the Kawarau project has thrown up everything from extreme weather through to challenges around working on either side of a very wide river. 

“The site is unique because while it is tight on either river bank, you also have to manage the expanse of the site across the river. Royal Wolf’s range of shipping containers were the ideal solution because they are highly portable, very durable to cope with the extreme weather conditions, and they come in a range of sizes to suit our specific needs.”

Incredibly versatile

The Kawarau Bridge project site is made up of two 20 ft lunch-room containers, an ablution block, three mini cube containers – which are less than half the size of a traditional 20 ft container – used for storing tools, and an 8 ft dangerous goods container.

“The site came with many unforeseen obstacles, but with everything housed inside containers, including our guys’ lunch room through to our tool supplies, it means the onsite crane can move equipment from one side of the river to the other very easily,” says Mr De La Rosa. “They’re strong and weatherproof too, but for big steel boxes they are also incredibly versatile and mobile, and can be stacked if needed which helps ease pressure on a tight site.”

Paul Creighton, Royal Wolf executive general manager NZ, says the Kawarau Bridge project shows how adaptable containers can be and how they can be modified to meet a specific need. “The beauty of Royal Wolf’s containers is that they can be used for everything from simple and reliable storage solutions through to modified and bespoke containers that take the shape of everything from toilet facilities and meeting rooms through to dangerous goods containers.”

More prominent

Royal Wolf has many containers located around New Zealand being used for a range of different projects – from retail and food outlets to covered pedestrian walkways (known as hoardings) around construction sites. 

It has also supplied many containers for the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) in Kaikoura to assist teams working to repair State Highway 1 and the Main North Line railway following the November 2016 earthquake. 

“With the ongoing activity in the construction industry, containers are becoming more and more prominent on streets and around construction sites. They are one of the easiest and most practical solutions for managing safety on these sites and they’re ideal for keeping both the public and workers safe,” says Mr Creighton.

“It also means, on a practical level, there is limited disruption around building sites, which are often in high pedestrian areas, or – in the case of Kawarau Bridge – the containers provide a highly efficient solution to keep the site running smoothly.”


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