The historic hut of Franz Josef

Posted by Steph on 29 July 2012

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Have you visited historic Cape Defiance hut behind the Franz Josef DOC Visitor Centre? This little slice of history is pretty special as it's a living sample of mountaineering in New Zealand, and it's in virtually the same condition as it was when it was used as a shelter for hikers on Franz Josef Glacier.

But there has been one major change to the hut - it's had a change of address. Originally built by pioneering mountain guides, the Graham brothers, the hut's first home was Cape Defiance, about four kilometres up the glacier. The Graham Brothers did the hard yards carrying all of the materials for the construction of the hut up to Cape Defiance around 1913, where they used the hut as an overnight stop for their guided trips. Overlooking the glacier, the hut was a three-hour hike from Franz Josef and provided shelter for hundreds of intrepid climbers over the years. But by 1936, Cape Defiance was succumbing to the retreating glacier and the hut was moved further up to Defiance Ridge. By 1978, the hut was under threat again and so it was moved to its current location down at DOC Franz Josef. A visit to the hut today will provide a fascinating insight into New Zealand's mountaineering history where it now acts as an information centre on New Zealand's mountaineering history. We think you'll appreciate the mountain gear you get from us when you see some of the equipment that was used in back in the day... brrrr!!

Photos by Craig Buckland


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