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Franz Josef town

Franz Josef glacier

Franz Josef glacier in 2001

Today we drove south along the coast from Hokitika to Franz Josef. Here we went to see the Franz Josef glacier. Both the town the glacier were named after Emperor Josef the First, who was the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungry, Bohemia and Croatia from 1848 (at age 18) until his death in 1916. They were named by an Austrian explorer in 1865 by the name of Julius von Haast. The heir to the throne after Franz Josef was Franz Ferdinand. Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914 which triggered events that started the First World War.

The glacier is currently 12 km long and is shrinking. Compare my photo taken today to one taken in 2001.

The little village of Franz Josef, population 330, is a tourist centre and reminds me of Banff in Alberta, Canada. This little village gets about 2000 tourists per day during the summer. Many people take a helicopter ride up to the glacier.

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