Homer Tunnel Entrance

Coordinates: -44.764870, 167.989720

Men began excavating scree at the tunnel entrance using picks, shovels and wheel barrows on 4 July 1935, they hit rock in early 1936. Pneumatic drills were used to plant gelignite in the hard rock, the debris was cleared out using light rail and dumped at the approach to create the foundation of the road.

Because the tunnel slopes down steeply, it filled up with water and had to be constantly pumped out. Tunneling was begun at the Milford side and in February 1940 they breeched, allowing subterranean water to flow without intervention.

Expansion work was stopped in 1942 during the war. A substantial concrete portal was built on the Milford end to protect the tunnel exit from avalanches but it was crushed by a massive avalanche in 1945. In 1947 the tunnel was opened to walkers from the Milford Track. In 1951 work was re-started and in 1954 the tunnel was officially opened to traffic.

The foundations of the old tunnel workshops are visible from the tunnel entrance car park, at the start of the alpine walk. Note that the alpine walk is currently closed due to rockfall. On the south side of the road there is often a famous ice fall, enjoyed by tourists in the Summer as they wait for the lights to change at the tunnel entrance.

Because the tunnel is not wide enough to allow 2 large vehicles to pass safely, traffic lights operate at the entrance and exit during the day. The wait can be several minutes, though travellers are always kept well entertained by devil may care Kea. Please do not feed Kea.

There is an emergency telephone at the entrance and exit of the Homer Tunnel. No Toilets.


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Homer Tunnel Entrance

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