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NZ rallies to save natural icon from tourist ravages

February 2, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

New Zealand tourism authorities are working to save a gnarled and picturesque natural icon, the star of uncountable Instagram shots, from being loved to death by enthusiastic visitors.

The icon is a willow tree, standing alone in the shallows in tranquil waters of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand’s South Island.

Set against a backdrop of stunning scenery, the solidary willow provides a perfect focal point. Tourists love the tree so much that vast numbers are visiting it, some wading into the lake, climbing in the branches and taking selfies. Twigs and branches have been knocked off; bark and leaves are suffering.

A photographer who visited the tree recently, Jonas Vesterlund, spoke of “struggling to get a spot amongst the hordes of Chinese tourists” to take his picture but found the sight “beautiful nonetheless”. He took an astonishingly lovely photo.

The damage to the tree has come to the attention of Tourism New Zealand Tourism and the local Queenstown District Council. The latter is placing signs near the tree warning tourists to take care. As many of the tour groups are Chinese, the signs will be in both English and Mandarin.

As long as the signs are not souvenired, the move may work. If it doesn’t, the final step may involve a strong fence being erected around the tree – but there goes the natural beauty!

Written by Peter Needham

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