Iconic Wanaka Tree – A crooked willow tree that stands in a lake

“That Wanaka Tree” – a willow growing just inside the lake – is a tourist attraction in its own right, featuring on many tourists’ Instagram feeds. The tree had its lower branches, including one branch that dips into the water, cut by vandals in 2020. The lone tree is at the foothills of Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand, a World Heritage Site and symbolises hope and endurance.

“That Wanaka Tree”, a willow growing off the shores of Lake Wanaka, against a mountainous background. Tom Hall / CC BY

By CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

By CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

By Michelle Maria, CC BY 3.0, Link

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The Wanaka Tree in all its former glory. On the night of March 17th, the lower horizontal branch of the famous Wanaka Tree was hacked off with a handsaw or chainsaw and left on the shore. There has been outrage at the deliberate act of vandalism. Unfortunately, in the months since, it seems that no suspects have been identified nor has anyone been arrested. It doesn't have an official name, but it has been dubbed the Wanaka Tree after its home Lake Wanaka. It became famous for being the solitary tree that grows in the lake and is often photographed against the backdrop of New Zealand's Southern Alps. There are no official signs that guide visitors to the tree, but with a little research it isn't too difficult to find. In the winter, the water levels are sometimes low enough that visitors can walk right out next to the tree. It is pictured here in all its former Autumn glory. Many around the world were saddened and confused to learn that someone willingly damaged the Wanaka Tree. There has been no explanation for the vandalism, and speculation will not turn back time. For those who knew the tree before the damage, its life will forever be defined by the number of branches it has. We must also look on the bright side. The tree still stands, and is as beautiful as ever. In the months that have passed, the tree has also begun to heal. It is irreversibly changed, but this tree will always be the one and only Wanaka Tree. Featured: @kate_miles_ Location: Lake Wanaka, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand #WWTTY: Where Will TOTEM Take You? ____________________ #TOTEMMade #WanakaTree #NewZealand

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