Image of the week: 12 October

09 October 2020

Tourism at Home

The historical development of Franz Joseph Glacier into one of the South Island’s best known tourist attractions is documented in one of the Macmillan Brown Library’s most significant collections, the A. C. Graham Photographs.

Alexander (Alec) Graham (1881-1957) was a pioneering West Coast mountaineer and guide who shared a keen interest in photography with his climbing companions, building a collection of photographs that document many elements of West Coast history from the late 19th to mid-20th century. Many of the most dramatic images were taken on the mountains and glaciers, and often featured the tourists he guided onto the ice. Graham and his companions carried the bulky and fragile glass plate photographic equipment on their climbs with only the most basic mountaineering gear—without even crampons. In 1910, Alec and his brother Peter guided Freda Du Faur to become the first woman to reach the summit of Aoraki/Mount Cook, a highlight in their guiding careers.

As well as leading visitors onto the glacier, the Graham family established the accommodation necessary to support a thriving tourist industry. In 1911 they took over the small Glacier Hotel which they continuously expanded after laboriously moving it via ramp and winch—180 meters over six days—to higher ground, while it remained occupied! By the 1930s, guides at the now grand hotel would lead 80 tourists a day onto the glacier. The Grahams sold the hotel to the government Tourist Department in 1947, and it was destroyed by fire in 1954.

Browse the AC Graham Photographs collection via Kā Kohika, UC Library’s catalogue for archives and art.

For more on this history see Uncle Alec and the Grahams of Franz Josef , by Alec Graham and Jim Wilson.

Image references

  1. Teichelman, c.1904. Rev H. E. Newton with camera on tri-pod photographing Glacier and Douglas Peaks, A. C. Graham Photographs (MB1065, Ref 18861). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  2. Alexander Carter Graham, n.d. Five women on Franz Josef Glacier, A. C. Graham Photographs (MB1065, Ref 17598). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  3. Alex and Peter Graham with Freda du Faur, n.d., A. C. Graham Photographs (MB1065, ref 19284). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  4. Alexander Carter Graham. Moving hotel, Waiho, 1911. Building starting up ramp—side view, A. C. Graham Photographs. (MB1065, ref 20157). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  5. Markham Carthow Lyson. Glacier hotel, Waiho. Annex single-storey, 1930s, A. C. Graham Photographs. (MB1065, ref 19504). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.


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