One large part of the Waiho bridge was swept away by flood waters. A new 180m part has been finished and the whole bridge opened to traffic again.
The Waiho bridge is important because it joins the West Coast (South Island) highway to Haast Pass, Wanaka and Queenstown. There is only one main road along the West Coast and if it is closed, people wanting to get to Queenstown have to drive over the Southern Alps to the east. The Waiho river is next to the Franz Josef township. Tourists want to visit the glacier at Franz Josef and businesses in this small town need tourists.
The Waiho bridge is a Bailey bridge. Bailey bridges were used during World War II by the British army to replace bridges blown up by the enemy. The bridges come in small sections; each section can be carried by 6 people and can be put in place without using heavy machines like cranes. Often this takes only a week. However, heavy rain made it difficult for the workers. Army engineers came to help and the bridge opened on the 13th of April.
Swept away: pushed along by water
Alps: a group of mountains
glacier: a mass of ice that is very slowly moving down a mountain
township: a very small town
blown up: destroyed by explosives