A section of the temporary portal extension being installed
at the western entrance of the Homer Tunnel. Photo by NZTA.
Work on the Homer Tunnel has forced organisers of the
Milford Mountain Classic bike race to shorten the course for
this weekend's race.
The decision to exclude the Homer Tunnel section of State
Highway 94 from the race which previously ran from Milford
Sound to Te Anau was to protect competitors from possible
The rock fall situation has resulted in road closures by the
New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) since early December
and about 20km has been trimmed from the 120km race distance.
Organisers said they were confident a shortened route would
still provide participants with a positive race experience.
Race committee chairman Don McFarlane said safety of
competitors was paramount.
''If NZTA believe there is a real risk to participants, then
there is no alternative but to move the start to avoid this
''We are delighted that the event can still go ahead, albeit
as 100km instead of 120km, and believe the 100km route will
still provide participants with a challenging race through
some of the world's most spectacular scenery.''
NZTA Southland area manager Peter Robinson said the decision
was likely to disappoint some, but the right one had been
''Cyclists would have limited ability to get to safety, even
with the safety systems we have in place, and that is a risk
we are simply not prepared to take and, while obviously
disappointed, the race organisers understand our position.''
The western tunnel entrance and the highway for several
hundred metres towards Milford Sound will be transformed into
a construction zone by race day.
The race will now start at the Homer Hut car park.