Homer Tunnel

The Homer Tunnel in Fiordland is an iconic alpine tunnel perched at the high point (945 metres) of the Milford Sound Highway (State Highway 89). It nestles under the 1,400-metre Homer Saddle, which separates two enormous steep rocky cirques sculpted by ancient glaciers. The majestic Darran Mountains are on the northeast side of the tunnel, with the Wick Mountains to the southwest. The glacier-carved rock faces are a testament to nature's power and tower over 1,000 metres above the tunnel.

The tunnel is 1.3 km long and was manually dug out, starting in 1935 as a Great Depression make-work project. The west side, over 100 metres lower than the east, was reached in 1940. However, WW2 disrupted the project and the tunnel was not fully completed until 1953. The road was only fully sealed in the 1980s.

You will probably need to stop at the tunnel, which is one-lane and controlled by traffic lights. This can take up to 15 minutes. There are also stopping points In a couple of places with great views of the cirques, and you are likely to meet a kea, the cheeky mountain parrot.

There is a good chance it will rain when you do the drive, and in Winter, the road can be closed after snow storms due to avalanche risk. When it is raining, it is a stunning experience. Water cascades around the two cirques, with numerous temporary waterfalls on every cliff face. Of course, it is also a stunning place when the sky is clear!

The tunnel is 20 minutes drive from Milford Sound and 1 hour 25 minutes from Te Anau.

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