Each day dozens of people gather at the shores of Lake Wanaka at dawn and dusk to photograph the “most photogenic tree in the world.”

A New Zealand Tree Goes Viral

By —— Bio and Archives--November 2, 2017

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Lake Wanaka, New Zealand
A lone tree that grew from a fence post in the South Island of New Zealand has become an unlikely and incredibly popular social media sensation. The straggly crack willow tree on the shores of Lake Wanaka is thought to be at least 80 years old. Recently, this tree has stepped into a global spotlight and become a social media star – with some staying power. Known as #thatwanakatree, it is attracting both professional and amateur photographers from around the world, looking for that perfect shot of the tree – that often looks like it is growing right out of the lake.

Each day dozens of people gather at the shores of Lake Wanaka at dawn and dusk to photograph the “most photogenic tree in the world.” The hashtag #thatwanakatree has been used nearly 15,000 times on Instagram.

The tree is the focus of photography tours, people pose naked beside it, have their wedding photographs taken in front of it, and meditate beneath it. In 2015, more than 100 people attended an Instameet in Wanaka to shoot the tree, including internationally known Instagrammers @youngadventuress (Liz Carlson), @helloemilie (Emilie Ristevski) and @lebackpacker (Johan Lolos).

Carlson, who organized the Instameet, said that the event was a “perfect place, perfect time, perfect storm” that led to an explosion of interest in Wanaka. “It changed the face of tourism here,” she said.

Wanaka is a resort town near Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island, less than an hour’s drive from Queenstown International Airport. The town is at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, which is popular for boating in summer. There are three ski fields within an easy drive of the town and other Wanaka attractions include hiking in Mt. Aspiring National Park, mountain biking and visiting some of the area’s wineries.

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

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