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Tucked in amongst a magical forest surrounded by snowy mountain tops lies a place for weary adventurers to lay their heads. It is a place where all who enter are met with a smile, where relaxation meets adventure, and new meets familiar.

 

A Home Away From Home 

 

58 on Cron opened its doors in 2006. This gem of an accommodation is close enough to access the amenities of Franz Josef Township while still enjoying the peace and tranquility of the natural landscape surrounding it. Recently, I met with managers Graham and Sheryl Hilton for our Local Spotlight Series.

  

Have you been at the motel for a long time?

 

Graham: We started managing here in October 2022. Before that, we managed at Punga Grove, a sister motel in town. We’ve been in Franz Josef for about 5 years.

 

How many rooms do you have?

 

Sheryl: There are 16 units in total. We have studios, king studios, spa studios, 2-bed apartments, and 1-bed apartments. Punga has another 20 rooms.

58 on Cron Motel, Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, NZ

1 Bedroom Apartment

Does that require a lot of staff?

 

Sheryl: We usually have 5 staff members in winter and 7 in summer. That’s between here and Punga Grove.

 

Last year, we did a Slow Travel series discussing the benefits of guests staying for multiple nights instead of only one. Do you get many one-night bookings?

 

Graham: Before Covid, we used to get a lot of one-night bookings, but since then, it’s become more common for people to stay 2 or 3 nights. It’s great! It gives them a chance to settle in for a bit and look around. Also, it rains a fair amount, but only sometimes. We get a lot of beautiful days as well. Like today! So, if the weather does set in, staying for a few nights allows people to wait it out. It changes quickly here, so it’s worth sticking around. 

 

Sheryl: People used to turn up late in the afternoon, have a quick look around, and then leave the following morning. It was a real shame, especially when the sun came out, and they weren’t here to enjoy it. That’s changed, though. People are starting to see this town as more than a one-night stop.

 

58 on Cron, Accommodation, Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast,NZ

 

Can you tell us more about the motel?

 

Sheryl: It’s all one level, so the units are easily accessible. We have a barbecue area where the mountains are visible from. 

 

You’re making strides to be more eco-friendly in your daily operations. Can you talk a bit about that?

 

Graham: We’re trying to minimise VOCs and chemical use in our hotels. Aside from a small amount for laundry and bathrooms, we’ve stopped using chemical products. Instead, we’re using the Enjo cleaning system. I was skeptical at first, but we’ve been using it for quite a while now, and it works really well. It’s much better for the environment and people’s health, especially those with allergies. We’re pleased with it. 

  

Sheryl: Another step we’ve taken is installing a new laundry system at Punga Grove that we also use. It regulates how much detergent is added to each wash instead of people free pouring. It’s much more efficient regarding water, detergent, and electricity.

 

Can you describe a perfect day on the job?

 

Graham: A day when everything runs like clockwork. When staff do a great job, and guests are happy, it creates a nice environment. I love it when people are in a good mood, which happens often in Franz. They come here on holiday and forget about their worries back home. We’ve managed several hotels in the past. We love this motel, and Franz Josef in general, because people are always happy. 

58 on Cron, Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, NZ

2 Bedroom Apartment

What do you love most about working and living in Glacier Country?

 

Graham: Being remote, first off. I like the forest, and it’s just here, right outside our door, all around us. I also like the cold. I’m from Australia, and I no longer enjoy the heat. I always find it funny seeing people sweating when it’s 26 degrees here (laughing). Another wonderful thing about this place is that everybody is so welcoming. There’s a really good feel around town.

 

Sheryl: I really like the crisp, cool mornings in winter. Also, the town is very friendly. No matter which shop you go into, you always feel welcome. There’s a strong sense of community here, which is really lovely. 

  

What is your favourite New Zealand plant, animal or insect, and why?

 

Sheryl: The Kea (NZ Parrot). They visit from their snow-capped mountains, and people enjoy seeing them around town. They’re pretty cheeky and mischievous. The most mischievous of all is Nestor. He has a red band on his leg for monitoring purposes because he causes so much trouble. He figured out how to flip open the lids to the rubbish bins, so  DOC (Department of Conservation) had to put weights on top to stop Kea from getting inside. They’re very cute.

Kea, Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, NZ

Credit: Geoff Marks

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 

Sheryl: 58 on Cron had a refurb not long ago. We’ve spruced it up a bit, and it’s looking good. Also, people perceive the town as being a lot bigger than it is and think we’re far away from everything. In actuality, nothing is more than a 10-minute walk away. Franz is a small town with much to offer, and we’re within walking distance. It’s an absolutely stunning place. Walking up the street and seeing those mountains is beautiful.

 

What are you waiting for? 

 

58 on Cron is located at 58 Cron Street, Franz Josef Glacier, across from the Franz Josef Glacier Guides. It’s a cosy, relaxing place to wind down and enjoy the natural surroundings after exploring the area. 

 

So, drop in to see Graham, Sheryl and the team, or get in touch to book your stay in this hidden gem on the West Coast.

  

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Mike Bilodeau is a freelance writer focused on ecotourism and sustainable travel.