Franz Josef Glacier is on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It is on a popular tourist trail which leads to the party capital of Queenstown in Otago. The main attraction of the region are the Glaciers. In recent years the glaciers have shrunk thanks to climate change. It is now not possible to take a hike up to the glaciers on foot due to their rapid retreat.
Most New Zealander’s who travel to Franz Josef can be excused for thinking that they must have stumbled into a different country because the majority of people you meet there with the exception of the locals are not from New Zealand and it is not only the tourists who visit the area. The summer season also brings an influx of foreigners on working visas. Staff at the restaurants and bars at Franz Josef are mostly foreigners. Certainly, many work places there resemble “the United Nations.”
The sad fact is that at a time when so many West Coasters are living off some form of government support they often get turned down for jobs in Franz Josef which instead go to foreigners to fund their overseas holidays. Franz Josef does offer an eye-opening experience for New Zealanders who are lucky enough to get work down there. It offers the locals a taste of overseas experience without leaving the country.
Working at Franz has many advantages compared with other tourist places and the main one is that accommodation is affordable making it easy to save money. Another great advantage of working at Franz Josef is that people who work there are entitled to reduced rates on tourist activities and in some cases they are free.
Then there is the opportunity to make new friends from other countries and with fellow New Zealanders who just seem to be as lucky as you to be accepted for work in the region. All of this while working amongst one of the world’s most stunning scenery.
To summarise, Franz Josef is a great place to save money if you are able to get a job there but if you are a tourist then there are far better options because the disappearing glaciers means that its main attraction will in time be confined to the history books and besides that like other tourist areas in the country this is on a well-worn tourist trail which eventually leads to the party-town of Queenstown and is not the real New Zealand.