contractors with service vehicles doing an inspection inside Homer tunnel

UNPUBLISHED DRAFT Homer Tunnel safety improvements

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Project introduction

In July 2020 the Government announced a $25 million project to improve the safety and resilience of the Homer Tunnel on SH94 between Te Anau and Piopiotahi Milford Sound.

  • Estimated project cost

    $25 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements

Stage 1: shovel ready works (underway now)

This stage includes:

  • installing fire safety systems, such as radar and incident detection cameras, active lighting and barrier arms.
  • improved remote tunnel monitoring from Te Anau.
  • upgrading the road east of the tunnel entrance for improved traffic management
  • an avalanche mitigation system and rockfall protection above the tunnel entrance.

This work is to be completed in mid-2022.

Upgraded speaker system

  • In November 2021, as part of stage 1 work, specialised speakers were installed on the tunnel roof. These allow the tunnel monitoring team to talk to people inside the tunnel. Because the walls of the Homer Tunnel are natural rock instead of smooth concrete, sound travels differently. Special equipment requiring extra fitting time was needed. The work involved several night-time tunnel closures to minimise disruptions to traffic.

Stage 2: Replacement of the eastern avalanche shelter and former equipment room

This work will be carried out in two phases during the next two summers (2021/2022 and 2022/2023) – outside of the avalanche season.

Stage 2, phase 1 – new equipment room

The new equipment room will replace the existing concrete building on the north side of the avalanche shelter. This building currently houses all the equipment required to run the tunnel. The new building will be below ground to reduce its visual impact and protect it from avalanches and rockfall.

The design for the new equipment room was completed in November 2021. Applications have been lodged with the Department of Conservation for concessions to do work in a national park and with Southland District Council for resource consent.

Department of Conservation website (LINK TO COME)

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Homer Tunnel at the eastern entrance.


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(Above): Before and after indicative images show how the new equipment room will have a minimal visual impact on the surrounding environment.

Stage 2, phase 2 – new avalanche shelter

The new avalanche shelter, which is at the start of the design stage, will replace the existing concrete avalanche shelter, which has reached the end of its useful life. This work will also require applications for Department of Conservation concessions and Southland District Council resource consent. They are expected to be lodged in early 2022 and images of the proposed avalanche shelter will be available at that time.