Destinations

Tourists are ruining one of NZ’s prettiest attractions

New Zealand’s stunning Lake Wanaka tree, an unusual but gorgeous tree that just rises out of the lake, is a huge drawcard for happy snappers and tourists visiting NZ.

But lately, some of these visitors are kinda ruining it for everyone else.

The Lake Wanaka tree is a major Instagram sensation in its own right (seriously, check out the gorgeous shots below). But the South Island star has had a whole bunch of naughty tourists actually climb it, leading to its deterioration.

The tree is famous to the point that it has its own hashtag – #thatwanakatree – with plenty of pretty pics showing it rising majestically out of a lake with Mt Aspiring National Park in the background.

 

Lone Tree. Lake Wanaka ?

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According to Lonely Planetthe willow even lost a limb before Christmas, with concerns that its deterioration could continue without efforts to stop it.

A big reason so many people have been clambering all over it is that while it’s often surrounded by water, the lake levels are currently so low that visitors are able to just walk right up to it.

 

#thatwanakatree

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Tim Errington, the arboricultural officer for the Queenstown Lakes District Council, told Lonely Planet that the Wanaka tree is a crack willow – salix fragilis – with a name that’s derived from the fact that the wood is brittle and easily snaps.

Errington explained that the tree is already growing in a somewhat tricky environment, as the roots of the tree are often totally submerged by cold water, which slows its growth.

So in response to this potential tragedy, the local tourism board is planning to install warning signs in English and Mandarin, in addition to a graphic that will discourage travellers from climbing the beautiful tree.

 

 

“Warning signs will be placed near the tree identifying the issues around climbing the tree, though we really want to avoid putting up fencing as this would have a significant impact on the amenity of the willow tree and take away some of the beauty associated with its stunning backdrop,” Errington said.

“Though, should any further damage be sustained, Queenstown Lakes District Council may have to look into more substantial solutions to the issue around people climbing and damaging this very unique tree.”

 

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