Arrivals & Departures Is this the world’s most photogenic tree?

Photo of Angie Tomlinson

People pose naked beside it, have their wedding photos in front of it, and meditate beneath it. With its own hashtag and social media following, New Zealand has found an unlikely star in the Wanaka tree.

Sometimes it’s the big things, sometimes the little that delight during our travels, and it seems a lone tree that grew from a fence post in the middle of Lake Wanaka has captured travellers’ imagination.

Located on New Zealand's South Island, the straggly crack willow tree is attracting quite an audience. Known as #thatwanakatree, it is enticing photographers from around the world, keen for the perfect shot.

Wanaka artist and writer, 85-year-old Gwenda Rowlands, remembers the fence line the tree has grown from nearly 70 years ago, when she first visited it in a dinghy with her father and brother.

“It was 1939, and I remember it growing there — and that’s not yesterday,” she said.

“So it has been growing slowly all that time… it shows anything that is alive has a determination to live.”

Gizelle Regan, from Lake Wanaka Tourism, said the tree’s popularity was due to its accessibility to Wanaka town and the backdrop of snow-topped mountains and shimmering lake. 

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