One of the World's Most Photographed and Beautiful Trees Vandalized, Branches Cut

One of the World's Most Photographed and Beautiful Trees Vandalized, Branches Cut

You might not know the Wanaka Tree by name, but there is a very good chance you have seen the iconic willow tree before. Sadly, vandals recently attacked the famous tree with a saw, mangling its natural beauty.

The tree, located in Wanaka, New Zealand, has been the subject of countless photos, with its lowest branch elegantly gracing the surface of Lake Wanaka against a mountain background. Sadly, vandals recently attacked the tree with a saw, chopping off many branches, including the beautiful lower branch. Photographer Luisa Apanui arrived at the lake earlier this week for a shoot and discovered the cut branches on the shore nearby.

It is a truly sad loss, as the tree was one of the most recognizable and beautiful natural elements on the planet. Tree branches rarely regrown if cut, and even if the tree regrows the cut branches, it is highly unlikely that they will grow in a similar path as the originals, meaning it is unlikely the tree will ever fully reestablish its iconic look after the senseless act.

There have been no motives or leads established, and Wanaka Police are asking anyone with information to contact them.

Lead image by Stephane Pakula, used under Creative Commons. 

Log in or register to post comments


Miha Me's picture

I blame Patrick and his "get it right in camera".

If photographers had not already cancelled their trips to NZ due to COVID-19, surely this, will be the final straw.

Jon Kellett's picture

There's a lot more to see in NZ than just this tree... Not that people should still be coming - All incoming have to self isolate for 14 days as of over a week ago. :-(

It’s maddening what people do with no thought of the outcome. One of my planned trips is now not even possible due to the photography ban in Kyoto’s Gion area. The monkey see, monkey do IG fad is largely to. blame

Alex Yakimov's picture

Sad story which reminds me Susan Sontag’s take on photography: “Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art. Most subjects photographed are, just by virtue of being photographed, touched with pathos.”

This photo of the Wanaka tree is from February 2002. I do not know if the tree was already famous back then. When we were there, there were no people around it at all as you can see. The photo is taken with a Nikon E995 3MP.

Stuart Carver's picture

How the hell have you managed to come to that conclusion from this article ffs.

Read his post history and It becomes clear this jerk, “Sam”, is acting in the way his fevered, America hating imagination thinks people who aren’t leftists like him behave.

A “spoof” by an MSNBC obsessed partisan mental case.

Stuart Carver's picture

And there within lies the problem with the Internet, people have the right to talk utter shit.

dred lew's picture

Apparently he has TDS, Trump Derangement Syndrome. Better not to engage.

David Pavlich's picture

Sam...I'm as Libertarian as it gets. First, there is no 'Freedom of Speech' on a privately owned forum. You're allowed to post here on the whim of the owner.

As far as trees go, in general, trees are a renewable resource. Trees are grown commercially to be used for all sorts of things we use in our daily lives. However, cutting up a tree just for yucks should bother all of us. Same as hunting. I don't hunt, but if it's done legally and the intent is to eat it, that's terrific. But people that hunt for profit (poachers) should be placed UNDER the jail.

Considering that law enforcement is looking for these cretins, I'm guessing that a law or two was broken. You are all for the Rule of Law, I assume.

You’re wrong about freedom of speech being extinguished in privately owned forums.

If they censor free speech they’re publishers, and therefore legally liable for all posts on their site, ie, libel, threats, etc.

If they claim immunity because they’re merely a communication facility, they can’t also pick and choose which posts to allow, outside of forbidding those explicitly illegal. Otherwise, they lose the immunity by behaving like a publisher.

David Pavlich's picture

Sorry, but the owner sets the rules in the Terms of Service. When you sign onto a webpage, it is implied that you have read the rules and agree with them. A site that I was an admin on had someone challenge their right of refusal to post what was against the ToS. Guess who won? Just so you know, this particular site I mention has in the ToS that religion and politics are expressly forbidden topics and will be deleted without warning. Been that way for the 15 years that I've been a member there and is still in force today.

Freedom of Speech as spoken by the US Constitution is a limiting factor aimed at the federal government. I don't know about other country's guiding principles, but the US Constitution's First Amendment does not apply to a private webpage.

I think it looks better.

Mutley Dastardly's picture

That's done on purpose - or maybe it was done due to an illness of the tree?
Are you sure it's done by vandals?

Catherine Bowlene's picture

Oh, my. I wanted to see this tree with my own eyes and now I don't have a tiniest chance, thanks to someone's stupidity.