When Wanaka’s tree – their symbol of hope in the deep south ravaged by the effects of covid restrictions etc. – was vandalized in March 2020, it made headlines around the world, featuring on CBS News, Guardian, etc. They claimed it is the most famous tree in New Zealand — and possibly in the world. Desperate locals down south view their sacred icon as their symbol of hope. The tree, known on social media as #ThatWanakaTree, is a very popular Instagram spot and tourist attraction — it’s even listed on Google Maps using the hashtag. They even photoshopped a lake monster to try to add some excitement.
Meanwhile, in Turangi, our willows in the lake have recently been subject to much greater newsworthy phenomena. There are two similar willow trees that were growing in Lake Taupo but now, over the last few months, they have slowly and steadily, physically moved back to the shore. The photos never lie. Quite remarkable.
Comparatively, Turangi never considered there was any need to commercialise or publicise our trees as tourist attractions or symbols of hope. They are usually ignored as just another shags resting tree. In Turangi there are so many other more worthwhile local tourist attractions. In addition to the largest lake in New Zealand and three famous national parks. Turangi is home to the world-famous Tongariro River, hot thermal pools, biking trails, bigger trout, a famous trout fishing motel, etc.