I thought I got the feeling of current hard times in tourism while I live in Te Anau, however visiting Franz Josef or Fox Glacier was for me, as tour operator, an eye-wateringly sad experience. Those two villages dependent on tourism are really hurting. I don't understand why (some) Kiwis exclude these places from their itineraries.
The glacier country is one of the most beautiful locations in New Zealand and a must to visit. Accommodation in Franz Josef was ridiculously cheap! Actually we upgraded to a 5 star Te Waonui Forest Retreat paying the price of a cheaper 3 star motel! Ok, if clients pay for my tours I normally guarantee average 3,5* accommodation. However, I do my best to provide the best accommodation for clients money and this trip was a 4 star plus experience!
While there were only few tourists travelling we could experience many places just on our own, time to relax and enjoy - what a luxury! February would be otherwise the busiest time ever with skyrocketing prices and crowds of tourists.