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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency confirms that a four-wheel drive route into Milford Sound Piopiotahi is now available for emergency services. Additionally, essential services convoys* for Milford Sound Piopiotahi businesses are planned to start this weekend.

“The Downer teams and the sub-contractors working on this road have done a sterling job in the last few days progressing road reinstatement, since last week’s metre of rain over less than three days,” says Transport Agency System Manager Graeme Hall.

“The damage will require a significant rebuilding over more than a 12-month period. However it has been a huge effort to establish a construction track and to be able to forecast we can accommodate some traffic use in the coming weeks while rebuilding continues,” he says.

“Most of the most serious road damage is between the East Gate (near the Hollyford turnoff) and the Chasm and we need to ensure that work continues on these sites leading into winter, hence the need to manage traffic with escorted convoys and we acknowledge that this is a trial which may not suit everyone.

“This convoy system is being supported under the Civil Defence emergency status, and it will need support and assistance from the tourism operators and wider businesses to work.”

Sunday start for business access, subject to weather

The first convoy along SH94 for Milford businesses will start this Sunday, 16 February, subject to weather, through to and including Thursday, 20 February: 

Twice a day – in and out:

  • 8am East Gate in
  • 9am Gulliver Gate back
  • 4pm East Gate in
  • 5pm Gulliver Gate back

Drivers will need to be at the start and end places at these times to be part of the convoy.

Vehicles and drivers who will be able to take part in this business-only convoy will involve people transporting the following items: Fuel, food, freight, septic/ rubbish disposal trades. Also contractors, staff of Milford Sound businesses in vans or coaches, commercial fishing industry and associated trades, air traffic control personnel.

Tourism buses to be included from Friday, 21 February

Following five days of business-only, essential services convoys, the highway access will increase to include tourists/visitors on buses from Friday, 21 February. (Again, subject to weather and repairs to the road allowing access.)

Buses with a minimum of ten seats will be able to join the convoy at these times and places, three times each day:

  • 10.00 am East Gate in
  • 11.30 am Chasm Gate back
  • 12.30 pm East Gate in
  • 1.30 pm Chasm Gate back
  • 2.30 pm East Gate in
  • 4.00 pm Chasm Gate back.

“The Transport Agency will be working closely with Emergency Management Southland which has extended the State of Emergency for Southland, including Fiordland, until next Tuesday.

“If at any stage rainfall creates fresh risks along this route, convoys will be halted and we will do our best to keep people informed and up-to-date,” says Mr Hall.

“We thank everyone for their patience while this essential work is underway. We are doing our best to provide a safe route for all road users and restore this important link to Milford.”

He noted that another smaller storm is forecast in a week’s time (possibly 17 February), so any work to firstly open and then keep the temporary route open, even to supervised convoys, is dependent on the weather.

*What is a convoy?

A convoy involves a lead road authority vehicle and a tail vehicle which escorts a number of vehicles between them at specific and pre-advertised times. The convoy travels in one direction where a highway is too narrow or damaged for two-way traffic or the open road speed limits.

Before and after at and near Forks Bridge, SH94

Before – 3 February 2020

After – 11 February 2020

More photos showing the damage on the SH94 Milford Road webpage

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with:

MIL OSI