The State Highway 94 to Milford Sound could remain closed after several slips and avalanches hit the road in one of the worst storms seen in the area in 25 years.
The NZ Transport Agency says its contractor will do their best to get the highway open before the weekend, but it will be a big task, with several avalanches blocking the road between the Hollyford turn-off and Milford Sound. Around 300mm rain fell in the area over a 24 hour period.
The highway was closed early yesterday morning prior to the worst of the bad weather arriving. Currently the highway is closed from Te Anau Downs to Milford Sound. A major slip is also blocking the Hollyford Road which is managed by the Southland District Council.
Transport Agency Southland Area Manager Peter Robinson says the worst avalanche on the State highway 94 is about five metres deep, although this isn’t big by Milford Road avalanche standards. The major issue facing us is the number of avalanches blocking the road and with 60-80cm of snow forecast, getting equipment on site to clear these is going to be a challenge.
“More bad weather is expected today including snow making it more difficult to clear avalanche and slip debris. However, we hope to remove fallen trees that are blocking the road between Te Anau Downs and the Hollyford turn-off by early afternoon. This will allow equipment to be transported to the slip and avalanche site”.
Peter Robinson says there is currently very limited communications into Milford Sound at the moment. We aren’t sure how many people may be stranded at Milford by the road closure. Plenty of advance warning was given to those in Milford of the looming storm, so the could leave if they wanted to.
The best way keeping up to date with the latest on the status of the Milford Road is to regularly check www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or phone 0800 444499.