Glaciers are cool ~ Franz Josef


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Oceania
July 12th 2015
Published: October 22nd 2015
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I spent nearly three weeks in the small town of Franz Josef, working at the Rainforest Retreat Backpacker Hostel and Lodge. If theres one thing I can walk away from this job knowing its this - I finally know how to make a bed and fold towels into cute animals (Mom, are you proud??! All those years of teaching me how to fold a fitted sheet and I was able to learn it in under 3 weeks …muahahah!) So remember how in my last WOOFing job in Kaikoura I only had to work 2-3 hours in day in return for accommodation? Well, the story was quite different here. This place was HUGE and the biggest accommodation that the town of Franz offered so they got really packed. They didn't have nearly as many employees as they need so they kinda made use of the WOOFers a little bit too much. We (the other WOOFers and I) were only meant to work 4.5 hours a day in return for accommodation and dinner but they would basically ask us to stick around for a few more hours everyday and it got to the point where it was becoming really annoying. I mean, once in a while, we were happy to help but it became a habit and we thought it was kinda a scam that they weren't offering us more perks when we would give more of our day to working there for nothing (else) in return! I was especially annoyed about this because by the time I would finish the job, take a quick break and head out to the glacier valley or the mountains to do some trekking, it was very dark out and it didn't make much sense to be out hiking when I couldn't see the sights I was hiking to! I probably would have left this job way earlier if it hadn't been for the company, my roommates and fellow WOOFers Paul (from Germany), Elin (from Colorado) and Emmeline (from France). Emmeline was my roommate before Paul and Elin showed up and we had a real blast together. A newly turned vegetarian, Emmeline and I had lots in common and spent lots of our free time talking about animal rights and environmentalism. Emmeline left two days before Elin and Paul showed up so there was that little window where I was the only WOOFer that the hostel had and boy were they making use of that or what! I'm so glad Elin and Paul arrived because the three of us really did everything together during my last week and a half and had so many laughs and good times. Because the work required us to lift really heavy things and move on our feet without much of a break, we were tuckered out every night by 8pm. We had this long running joke that if we stayed out (at the local Rainforest Retreat restaurant and bar) past 9pm, we were having a wild night. We finally plucked up the courage to let the hostel staff know that enough was enough and that we weren't going to be taken advantage of anymore and after our actual work hours, we were going to be outta there no matter how much work was left to do! They responded well and even gave us a day off - a day well spent hiking up to the glaciers and other areas of this magnificent part of the South Island. Elin and I did this one hike that had the longest and most unstable rope bridge I have ever been on. It was so shaky and scary and felt like forever before we got to the other side but we made it!

I left Franz Josef on a bitter sweet note -I was happy to be leaving the role but sad to leave my friends and the amazing Westcoast as I was headed to Wanaka next. I said my goodbyes early one morning, packed up my stuff and headed to Wanaka!

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