The Clifden suspension bridge spans 111.5 metres over the Waiau River, and is the longest suspension bridge in New Zealand.
Settlers depended on a ferry to get stock and supplies across this dangerous river. By the early 1890s the Government funded a punt attached to a wire rope until the bridge was built in 1898-99 taking ten months to complete. It was opened on 5 April 1899 by Sir Joseph Ward.
Southland County Engineer C H Howorth designed the bridge anchoring the cables into limestone deposits. The tapering towers are 7.5 metres high, the steel cables weigh 28 tonnes and the decking and beams are made from heart totara. The bridge is 3.5 metres wide, and acted as a single lane bridge for horse-drawn traffic although traction engines were soon towing lime and wool over it.
Trucks and cars traversed it from the 1920s and it remained in use until 1978 when the current bridge was opened downstream.