Whangarei District Council has approved plans to build a bridge that will be the biggest civil-engineering project in the city's history.
The Lower Hatea river crossing, which will connect the suburb of Onerahi with the southern part of Whangarei, is expected to be completed by 2013.
The cost of $29 million will be shared between the district council and the Transport Agency.
Deputy mayor Phil Halse says the bridge's design references the prow of both a Maori waka and a fish-hook.
The bridge will be able to be raised in the centre to allow large vessels to pass through. There will be cycle and walking lanes and a new park at the foot of the bridge.