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Mitre Peak the jewel in the Milford Sound Crown2

Project overview

Project introduction

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

  • Project type

    Road management

Project updates

Queenstown to Milford travel time map
Project updates, (PDF)
Features of interest from Te Anau to Milford
Project updates, (PDF)

Road status

94

Te Anau - Milford

OPEN

AVALANCHE HAZARD LOW

Ice and Grit possible in shaded areas and on bridges.

Next Update 2016-09-01 07:30:00

Why is Milford Road so important?

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

Driving to Milford Sound?

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

How much time does it take to drive to Milford Sound from Te Anau or Queenstown?

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

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. Petrol and diesel is available in Milford Sound from pumps that only certain credit cards with pin number access only.

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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 internationally acclaimed avalanche control programme enables the road to stay open 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 the road condition 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

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. 

Milford Road

Project Contacts

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