One of the most photographed trees in the world has been damaged and could die if people don’t leave it alone. The Wanaka Willow, located on Lake Wanaka in New Zealand, has a very high social media presence. It appears in thousands of photographs, on t-shirts, shopping bags, and other tourist gifts and paraphernalia.
The thin-barked willow tree recently had a limb ripped off and is being damaged by tourists climbing the tree. Arborist Tim Errington stated, “It is a pretty small tree and it seems to be struggling in that location. Any loss has a detrimental affect on the tree and it would be unlikely to survive. Give it a rest and leave it alone. But as long as people don’t clamber all over it, it should go on.”
Normally the tree is surrounded by water but a recent drought has allowed people to access the tree easily. Signs with “no climbing on the tree” graphics and warnings are currently being designed.