Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Homer Tunnel
On our trip to the fjord at Milford Sound, we took NZ highway 94. This road was completed in 1954. Prior to that, there was no road to Fjordland National Park. It was only accessible via the sea. The sticking point with the road was the mountain range that guards any overland access. In 1934, a depression era construction project began on the Homer Tunnel (nothing to do with the Simpson’s). The tunnel is an engineering wonder traversing 1.2 kilometers (3/4 of a mile in American-speak) through the middle of a mountain of solid rock. It was done with dynamite and pick-axes; no heavy machinery. The engineers planned in a 10% gradient because if they had gone straight across they would have ended up on a cliff when they emerged on the other side (don’t ask me how they do this stuff. I am always amazed at engineering. I think I am an engineer ”wannabe” at heart!). In any event, thanks to people who risked their lives (many lost their lives in avalanches while construction was under way) building the Homer Tunnel, we were able to have a leisurely motor coach ride to the Milford Sound fjord.