Milford Sound Road update on convoys, locations and times, SH94

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 25, 2020

One of the narrowed areas of SH94, the Milford Road, with the convoy passing through in recent days.

Convoys of buses for visitors/tourists and essential services vehicles** into and out of Milford Sound are continuing this week, with a small change in frequency and timing from Thursday.

  • People wanting to get into Milford need to book a bus through a tourism operator to be part of the convoy.

  • Private vehicle drivers and people in their own cars or campervans cannot currently use the highway, which was badly damaged in the early February torrential rain with repairs under way and the road down to a single lane in several places. 

The convoys including buses started 21 February. They have run every day, three return journeys a day, since then and will continue this week so long as weather and road repairs allow them, says NZ Transport Agency journey manager Peter Brown.

“The convoys have gone well to date with relatively good weather and we are very pleased to have that visitor lifeline back in place to Milford Sound,” he says. 

Changes from Thursday 27 February to minimum number of seats and timetable

From 27 February, the times and places of starting and ending the escorted convoys have altered slightly with slightly different start and departure times.

  • There is also an approved adventure tourism operators-only convoy limited to 10 places at 8am, inwards only (i.e. narrower criteria than essential services, not including any large buses.)

The 10am, midday and mid-afternoon convoys inwards line up with the boat operators‘ timetable in the Sound. These are the convoys that will include tourist buses.

The new departure point (known locally as ‘Chains On‘) is also closer to the Homer Tunnel on its western side, reducing the distance to travel in convoy. The new start point of East Gate, near the Hollyford Road intersection, also helps reduce the convoy length on the Te Anau side.

The other change from 27 February is the minimum number of seats a bus must have – six down from eight. Only buses or vehicles with a minimum capacity of six seats will be accepted into the convoy and all tourist vehicles must carry a P (licensed to carry passengers) endorsement.

Convoys into Milford Sound

Convoy start-point

Convoys out of Milford Sound

Convoy start-point

8am (approved adventure tourism operators only)

East Gate (near Hollyford Road intersection)

 

 

10am

East Gate

10.45am

Chains On*

Midday

East Gate

1.15pm

Chains On*

2.45pm

East Gate

4pm

Chains On*

 

*Chains On is the spot midway between the Homer Tunnel and the Chasm on the western side of the tunnel. Combined with the shift at the other stopping/assembly point to East Gate, near the Hollyford Road intersection, this means the convoy time/distance will be shorter from this Thursday.

** Who/what qualifies as an essential service?

Vehicles and drivers who qualify as essential services include people transporting the following items: Fuel, food, freight, septic/rubbish disposal, trades goods. Also contractors, staff of Milford Sound businesses in vans or coaches, commercial fishing industry and associated trades, air traffic control personnel.  These vehicles will travel with the tourist buses.