Rakaia is a small town approximately 50 kilometres south of Christchurch on the southern banks of the Rakaia River. It is the salmon capital of New Zealand. A fact that is reinforced by the giant salmon on the highway as you drive through town.
Immediately north of the township are the country’s longest road bridge and longest rail bridge, both of which cross the wide shingle beds of the braided river at this point. Both bridges are approximately 1750 metres in length. You get a real sense of how long the bridges are as it takes several minutes to drive across. I was informed by a local that at the time of construction it was the longest bridge in Australasia.
The Rakaia River is one of the longest braided rivers in New Zealand, meaning it is made of of many small channels that form temporary islands depending on the water flow. Driving across the river you cannot help but notice the literally hundreds of small islands that make up the river itself.