That Wanaka Tree: New Zealand’s Most Instagram-Famous Tree

We all want to be famous. Options for achieving this in the modern world include sex tapes, controversial reality TV appearances or being genuinely talented at something. Or you could be a partially submerged willow tree standing alone in Lake Wanaka. That Wanaka Tree has become an Instagram celebrity over the last few years, so on our recent trip to the region (the main purpose of which was to hike Roys Peak) we stopped by to see what all of the fuss is about. Is it cool? Overrated? Just a tree in a lake? Keep reading to find out!

Update March 2020: Some loser just cut down one of the branches of That Wanaka Tree! It’s still worth a look but isn’t quite as photogenic as it once was.


I admit to being cynical about That Wanaka Tree before I visited. A seemingly nondescript tree that has been hyped up by the Instagram masses seems like something worth avoiding. Also, the only really impressive photos I’d seen of it were taken at sunrise or sunset; the two times of day when pretty much anything looks good. Maybe I’ll start photographing that tree in front of my house at sunrise and it’ll become a thing.

READ MORE: Looking for another popular photo spot in Wanaka? Check out Wanaka Lavender Farm

A crowd at That Wanaka Tree, New Zealand

Visiting That Wanaka Tree

We pulled up at the nearby car park and started walking along the beach. I saw a group of people clustered close to the shoreline before the actual tree. And then I saw it. My pulse started rushing. Emotions I never knew existed surged through my brain. A tear slipped through the defenses of my eye, crashing onto the stony beach.

Or not. I can’t remember what I felt at that moment (even though I’m writing this less than 24 hours later) but it was probably the ache of my body after the challenging Roys Peak hike. Having said that, I can see the appeal of That Wanaka Tree. It is kind of interesting to see a lone tree lost in a lake, and it is a good focal point for photos of Lake Wanaka. The stretch of beach in front of the tree is also more photogenic than the section closer to town (although Glendhu Bay is even nicer).  It’s certainly not the most amazing place you’ll visit in New Zealand but it is worth a look.

READ MORE: 18 Fun Things to Do in Wanaka

That Wanaka Tree in Autumn, New Zealand

Getting to That Wanaka Tree

There’s a car park in front of the beach, around a kilometre from downtown Wanaka (where all the shops and restaurants are). You could easily walk along the beach if you don’t have your own transport.

Planning a holiday to New Zealand’s South Island? Check out our South Island Travel Guide!

The following two tabs change content below.

Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

Latest posts by Jon Algie (see all)

Stunning view of Lake Wanaka from Roys Peak, New Zealand
Previous post

Sunrise at Roys Peak: Hiking to the Best Viewpoint in Wanaka

Hiking the Harbour Cone Track, Dunedin, New Zealand
Next post

Hiking the Harbour Cone Track, Dunedin