Famous Wanaka tree harmed by climbers

  • 24/01/2018
Photo Taken In Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Getty

Wanaka's famous willow is a popular photo stop for tourists, but trying to get that perfect selfie is starting to damage the tree.

Lake Wanaka Tourism is asking tourists not to climb the tree to get photos, after a branch fell off before Christmas.

"The loss of a branch is a big concern as it takes longer for this particular tree to regenerate," a Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman told NZ Newswire.

"It's quite a small tree growing in a challenging environment with its roots often completely submerged in alpine lake water.

"When bark falls off, which is more likely if people climb on it, the wound can be a focus for decay fungi and other diseases," he said.

The tree, which has been there for 70 years and is known as the 'lone tree of Lake Wanaka', is bearing the brunt of the social media phenomenon.

"If people weren't taking photos, they wouldn't climb it," the spokesman said.

Lake Wanaka Tourism is putting up warning signs with a clear 'no climbing' message in English and Mandarin.

The tourism organisation said it was difficult to assess actual visitor numbers to the tree - but they certainly don't see any signs of its popularity waning.

"We need to educate people through the signs that they need to respect it and then (the tree) will last that bit longer," the council spokesman said.