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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Changes to increase access into and out of Milford Sound Piopiotahi, starting on Monday 16 March, have been confirmed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

State Highway 94 east of the Homer Tunnel in particular, was badly damaged in extremely heavy rain early in February.

Since 21 February, daily convoys of buses for visitors/tourists as well as essential services vehicles** have been operating, restoring as much as has been possible, the tourism link to the Sound.

“The convoys have allowed crews to repair the road’s surface in some places faster than we originally anticipated, so we are now in a position to increase access,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager Peter Brown.

“The convoys are primarily designed to assist with the repair operation of the road and to ensure local businesses remain viable.

“In an effort to increase access and provide a way in for hunters, fishers, trampers and others who need to take their own vehicles and boats into the Sound, a new system of open times will start next week,” says Mr Brown.

The new system is being trialled from Monday, 16 March, to see if it is viable and if the highway work can continue without too many delays given the extra daytime convoys. “Community and industry feedback will be sought to ensure the new schedule is working well for as many people as possible,” Mr Brown says.

Key points

  • The convoy distance will be shortened to the east side of the Homer Tunnel – East Gate (Hollyford turnoff) to Monkey Creek, around 6 km, taking 12-15 minutes.
  • Daily convoys will be increased to hourly running between 8.30 am and 4 pm – see below:
Convoys into
Milford Sound

Convoy start-point

Convoys out of
Milford Sound

Convoy start-point

8:30 am

East Gate (near Hollyford Rd intersection)

9:00 am

Monkey Creek

9:30 am

East Gate

10:00 am

Monkey Creek

10:30 am

East Gate

11:00 am

Monkey Creek

11:30 am

East Gate

12:00 midday

Monkey Creek

12:30 pm

East Gate

1.00 pm

Monkey Creek

1.30 pm

East Gate

2.00 pm

Monkey Creek

2.30 pm

East Gate

3.00 pm

Monkey Creek

3.30 pm

East Gate

4.00 pm

Monkey Creek

  • After 5 pm each night and before 7.30 am each morning, once the work crews have packed up, the highway will be open to other road users. This will include people with their own vehicles for example hunters, fishers, trampers, people towing boats, campervan drivers.
  • Outside the short 6 km section, where scheduled convoys will continue to operate during the daytime, SH94 will be open 24/7 (Barring weather-related or roadwork events or avalanche hazards closing the road).
  • The schedule of daytime convoys will need to continue throughout the highway’s repair period – which could be many months.
  • People in private vehicles, rental cars or campervans wanting to get into Milford Sound Piopiotahi daytime hours ieafter 7.30 am and before 5 pm, will still need to catch a tourism bus from Queenstown, Te Anau or Knobs Flat.

No change this week and weekend

Mr Brown reiterated that the existing schedule of three return convoys for bus passengers and essential services people was continuing this week through to and including Sunday, 15 March. Please see the earlier media release for further details and table below: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/media-releases/fiordland-milford-sound-piopiotahi-sh94-access-update-convoys-seven-days-a-week/(external link)

Check this web link for any changes in the convoys or operating schedules: https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/areawarnings/291706(external link) 

Timetable of convoys this week up to and including Sunday, 15 March

Convoys into
Milford Sound

Convoy start-point

Convoys out of
Milford Sound

Convoy start-point

8 am (approved adventure tourism operators only)

East Gate (near Hollyford Rd intersection)

10 am

East Gate

10.45 am

Chains On*

Midday

East Gate

1.15 pm

Chains On*

2.45 pm

East Gate

4 pm

Chains On*

*’Chains On’ is a well-known location midway between the Homer Tunnel and the Chasm on the western side of the tunnel.

Who is eligible for the essential services convoys?

Vehicles and drivers who qualify as essential services include people transporting the following items: Fuel, food, freight, septic/ rubbish disposal, trades goods. Also contractors, staff of Milford Sound businesses in vans or coaches, commercial fishing industry and associated trades, air traffic control personnel.

For background on SH94 , the Milford Road, including convoy operating guidelines, see this web page: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh94-milford-road/(external link)

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey

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