Glacier advance : the development of tourism at Franz Josef Glacier, 1865-1965
The central theme in the development of tourism at Franz Josef Glacier between 1865 and 1965 is relationship between people and the environment in a volatile glacier valley, and the ways in which this influenced the interactions between tourism and conservation interests. The establishment of a tourist infrastructure in the valley necessitated a close working relationship between officers of the Department of Tourism and Health Resorts and Franz Josef tourism developers. The dynamics of this relationship had parallels with that of government officials and West Coasters during the struggle to improve access throughout Westland generally. The nature of Franz Josef and its surrounding environment provides clues to its relatively late development compared to resorts such as Rotorua, Mount Cook and Milford Sound. The most striking conclusion in the study of a hundred years of tourism development at Franz Josef is the way in which glaciation and climate dominated the works of people, enabling thousands of tourists to experience a spectacular and unpredictable wilderness environment, while leaving behind virtually no trace of their presence. The ascendancy of natural forces in the glacier valley limited the potential for conflict between tourism developers and conservationists. Another factor mitigating against conflict was that despite increasing government control of both conservation and tourism interests, West Coasters retained a strong voice in the development of the glacier tourism establishment. This resulted in a productive partnership between local people and officers of both the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts and the Department of Lands and Survey. This was very evident during the foundation years of the Westland National Park, a period characterised by a close cooperation between tourism and conservation interests. The mountaineering expertise of Alec and Peter Graham and their commitment to sharing the wilderness with others resulted in the evolution of a distinctive West Coast guiding tradition. The Grahams made a major contribution to the development of outdoor recreation in New Zealand, as well as playing an important role in encouraging women tourists to extend their mountaineering skills in the Southern Alps. Women also played a crucial role in the establishment of an individualistic West Coast hospitality tradition, while pioneering aviation developments in South Westland and at Mount Cook enabled tourists to fly over the glaciers and mountains and land on the snowfields of Westland National Park. The Franz Josef Glacier region offered unique and varied attractions, and the reason for the relatively late development of a tourist resort there is not easy to quantify, but in the final analysis it seems that ongoing access difficulties and rugged climatic conditions were just as responsible as the alleged neglect by the Department of Tourist and health Resorts during the study period. The Haast Pass highway did not open until 1965, and before that there was no route through the West Coast to Otago, which was a major disadvantage to tourism development.
Advisor: Page, Dorothy; Hayburn, Ralph
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Tourism New Zealand Franz Josef Glacier; Franz Josef Glacier (N.Z.) Description and travel
Research Type: Thesis