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Project introduction

These webpages provide information about Milford Road and the unique environment that Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is working within to maintain this solitary road link to Milford Sound Piopiotahi.


94

Te Anau - Milford

open

AVALANCHE HAZARD - LOW.
MULTIPLE WORKSITES CONTINUE - PLEASE EXPECT MINOR DELAYS & DRIVE WITH CARE.

WEATHER FORECAST FOR THE HOMER TUNNEL AREA: SAT & SUN - FINE, WITH MORNING FOG. MON - MAINLY FINE, SHOWERS SOUTH OF LAKE GUNN. TUES - SHOWERS DEVELOPING, TURNING TO SNOW ABOVE 500M AT NIGHT.

Next Update 07:30AM 02 October 2022

Live webcam

View of the Gertrude Valley, Fiordland National Park, from Milford Road. This image is refreshed every minute.

Storm repair work news

April 2022

It’s been a long journey, but the end is in sight.

Much of the repair work associated with a damaging rainstorm just over two years that left a trail of destruction on SH94 from the Hollyford Valley turn-off to Milford Sound should, be completed over the next six months.

Several sections of large retaining wall were destroyed, and several new walls have been required along this section of highway after the intense rainstorm in February 2020 that dumped 900mm of rain in the area in just three days.

One of the biggest repair jobs was recently completed. This involved restoring severely flood damaged retaining walls carrying SH94 above the river near the Hollyford Road intersection area. The highway was returned several months ago to its pre-flood width through this steep narrow valley. 

This has been a difficult repair job on multiple fronts and topping the list is the COVID-19 Pandemic and sourcing materials in a constrained supply chain environment. Among other challenges are possible rockfall risk, storm events, no cell phone coverage, limited road space, and most worksites being directly exposed to several large avalanche paths.

In addition to restoring Eastgate retaining wall, pictured below, repairs are being progressed on several bridges. All this work, subject to favourable weather and avalanche conditions should be completed by late winter or early spring.

A top priority for the Milford Road Alliance throughout this $9 million repair job has been minimising delays for visitors and businesses who depend on this road.

The fully repaired SH94 Eastgate retaining wall - February 2022.

  • Project type

    Road management

Project updates

Road status

Why Milford Road is so important

The Milford Road provides the only road access to one of New Zealand's favourite tourist attractions – Milford Sound Piopiotahi. No other highway in New Zealand climbs as fast to the same altitude as this one which at its highest point is 940 metres above sea level.

Driving to Milford Sound Piopiotahi

For the latest road and weather details, here are handy tips for a safe trip and frequently asked questions about this road.

Driving to Milford Sound Piopiotahi from Te Anau or Queenstown

If you drive non-stop its least two hours from Te Anau to Milford Sound (120 km) and four to five hours from Queenstown to Milford Sound (300 km).

View or download larger maps:

Basic travelling information

  • Times and distances

    The return trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound is 240km (144 miles) with a non-stop direct one-way drive taking at least two hours, potentially longer depending on the weather conditions.

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  • Before setting out

    Before leaving Te Anau ensure your vehicle has full tank of fuel as the only the fuel stop is at Gunns Camp in the Hollyford Valley that involves taking a detour off the Milford Road. Limited petrol and diesel is available also in Milford Sound from pumps that only certain credit cards with pin number access only.

    Follow our winter driving tips will help you prepare for and drive to the conditions when driving on icy, wet or snowbound roads.

    Check traffic and travel updates on our journey planner(external link) before you leave, or phone 0800 44 44 49.

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  • Toilets

    Flush toilet stops are located at Knobs Flat, The Divide and Milford Sound.

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  • Telephones

    Telephone services are available at Knobs Flat (card phone), Homer Tunnel (satellite phone for emergency use only) and Milford Sound (card phone). There is no cell phone coverage between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

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  • Waste disposal sites

    Campervan drivers shouldn’t discharge waste from their vehicles in the national park. Please use the facilities at your camping ground prior to leaving for Milford Sound. Camper van waste dump sites are also located at Knobs Flat and Milford Sound.

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History of Milford Road

Those who built the Milford Road and the Homer Tunnel in the 1930s were, for the most part, victims of the Great Depression and directed to this work by the government of the day. For these men of the road, and their wives who followed them into this wilderness, life was incredibly harsh, but the road and tunnel had to go through.

The weather could be merciless, the terrain ferocious, steep and rugged and beset by floods and deadly avalanches. Some workers died; bridge structures, road works and tunnel portals demolished, by the irrepressible forces of nature that marauded this area. In 1952 the road was finally completed. However, it remained closed during winter until the late 1970s, when tourist and fishing interests successfully lobbied for the year-round operation of the road.

After a massive avalanche killed a road maintenance supervisor in 1983, a programme was developed to monitor, assess and control the avalanche risk on the Milford Road. This avalanche control programme enables the road to stay open as much as possible with optimum margins of safety for all road users.

Avalanche hazard

The avalanche hazard is the prediction of the probability of avalanches happening and is expressed as a level of danger. You must consider this before driving into the avalanche area.

The avalanche hazard forecast is compiled from information that includes existing avalanche start zone snow-pack conditions (snow pit studies), current weather data (from automated road and high-level weather stations, that transmit data from the mountain top), the weather forecast and local knowledge of avalanche activity.

When a low avalanche hazard is posted on information signs on the Milford Road, the road is open. If a moderate avalanche hazard is posted there is a risk of avalanches reaching the road and the road could be closed at any time. When a high avalanche hazard is posted the road is closed.

Avalanche hazardProbability of avalanchesRoad status
LOW Avalanches are unlikely Open
MODERATE Avalanches are possible Road open, but may close at short notice
HIGH Avalanches are expected Road is closed

SH94 Milford Road Alliance

Milford Road Alliance logo

The Milford Road Alliance is a partnership between the NZ Transport Agency and Downer NZ to ensure the safe and efficient management of activities on State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford Sound. These include: avalanche control, incident response, managing the Homer Tunnel and general maintenance for the route.

The Alliance team is based in Te Anau. This ensures local ownership and decision making around the day-to-day operation of the highway, timely responses to issues and opportunities, and that the needs of customers using this key tourist route are met.

Meet the team responsible for maintaining the Milford Road

See the iconic Milford Road as you have never seen it before in this stunning 20 minute video.

Get some great insights into what it takes to manage New Zealand’s only alpine highway traversing some of our planets most stunning scenery. You will also meet the dedicated and skilled team who are responsible for this road and the many and varied challenges they face.

Contact us

For the latest road condition information:

For Milford Road queries or concerns:

Milford Road Alliance
Telephone (03) 249 7004
Email office@milfordroad.co.nz

For other road related issues:

Transport Agency’s Dunedin regional office
Telephone (03) 951 3009