Every morning and evening I ride my bike across the Whananaki footbridge to and from school. This wooden bridge is the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere and it is 395 metres long
I’m always in a hurry, so I ride as fast as my bare feet can spin the pedals. As I go, I am careful because if I get off the middle plank, I’m a goner. One terrible day I was going home sick from school and my front peg got caught. My bike flipped and I went flying. Dad had to rescue my bike because it was so jammed in the wire netting. Fortunately, this does not happen very often.
I have been riding the bridge since I was two years old. When I was two, my nana would often take me to the library. I would ride my little balance bike and go very fast, leaving her in the distance.
There is always plenty to see from the bridge. Once I saw a big grey stingray flapping through the water so I skidded to a halt to watch this majestic fish. Sometimes the water is alive with snapper, kingfish, kahawai, parore and sprats. I often see people fishing from the bridge.
I also love to sneak up behind the shags, drying their wings, to see how close I can get to them before they fly. Sometimes there are kingfishers and seagulls perching on the railings, I see pied stilts, dotterels, and oystercatchers foraging in the shallows.
I meet Trampers walking across the bridge because it is part of the Te Araroa trail. They are always carrying huge backpacks and walking sticks so they have to climb onto the side of the bridge so I can get past.
On very hot days, when we are at school, the teachers let us bomb off the bridge and into the water at lunchtime or swimming time. This is fun until you do a back flop or a belly flop.
I feel proud to ride across the bridge because my great-grandfather Len Peters and another man, Wilfred Byles built it in 1947. This meant my grandfather could walk to school instead of swimming on a horse or rowing a boat.
Ever since that date, the bridge has connected the south side to the north side. I can not imagine being without my bridge.