High avalanche risk keeps road into Milford Sound/ Piopiotahi closed


The highway between Te Anau and Milford Sound/ Piopiotahi remains closed today due to the ongoing high avalanche risk, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

“State Highway 94 has been closed from the Hollyford Road to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi since last Thursday evening with snowfall affecting travel before that,” says Kevin Thompson, Waka Kotahi Manager for the Milford Road Alliance.

“Currently we have large, natural avalanches occurring in a number of places. Given the low cloud and continuing rainfall, which is triggering avalanche material from high up the slopes, we cannot safely get crews in to clear the road yet.

“It's been a large storm cycle over the past week or so. At the weekend we started getting heavy, warm rainfall onto our avalanche "start zones" which triggered avalanches covering the road in places. These take time and machinery to clear once it is safe to do so.”

Mr Thompson and the Milford Road Alliance team have been inspecting the upper slopes by helicopter today (Monday) to assess how safe it is to get in to clear.

The highway is remaining closed today with a further assessment at 4.30 pm likely to determine an opening timeline.

“We appreciate that many of the businesses that operate in the Sound are inconvenienced by the current closure. We will clear the avalanche material and get the road reopened, possibly for convoys during daylight hours in the first instance, as soon as it is safe to do so,” he says.

Check for road status updates(external link)

Recent shots taken on the highway into Milford Sound/Piopiotahi

Above: The aptly named Avalanche Creek.

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