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The Truth About #That Wanaka Tree

that wanaka tree

One of the most famous photos on Instagram in New Zealand is a picture of a lonely tree in a lake, otherwise known as “That Wanaka Tree” or #thatwanakatree!

In fact, this tree has become somewhat of a symbol of New Zealand tourism and is a place that photographers and Instagrammers gather regularly to try and capture their own unique shot to share on Instagram under the hashtag #ThatWakakaTree!

We visited That Wanaka Tree the other day to see what all of the hype was about all for ourselves, and well, what we discovered was less than expected.

Why is this tree so famous? What makes it so special? Where is it? What is it like to visit? All of the questions you may have surrounding “That Wanaka Tree” are answered here!

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Need accomodation in Wanaka? Check out all the best hotels in Wanaka here. Be sure to book in advance as this little town books up fast!


Where Is The Wanaka Tree?

wanaka lake
The is the bay where That Wanaka Tree is located.

That Wanaka Tree is located right in the town of Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island. From town, if you face the lake and walk left along the edge of the lake you’ll eventually reach the Wanaka Tree.

Wanaka is a small town only about a 1-hour drive from the tourist hub of Queenstown.

Besides the tree, Wanaka is also famous for nearby hikes such as Roy’s Peak, Diamond Lake Walk, the beautiful Wanaka Lake, and surrounding mountains, as well as amazing restaurants and bars.

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What Is So Special About The Tree?

Selfie with the famous Wanaka Tree!
Selfie with the famous Wanaka Tree!

To be honest, it is a really unique place for a tree. Standing alone only a few meters into the lake sits the lonely tree. It is unusual but also beautiful with the lake setting and mountains in the backdrop. That Wanaka Tree does really make for gorgeous photos, and it is a beautiful representation of some of the unique sights in New Zealand.


Check out these must-do tours in Wanaka


Why Is The Wanaka Tree So famous?

that wanaka tree

Instagram is a pretty powerful platform these days. That Wanaka Tree is famous on Instagram and thousands of photographers have posted incredible photos using the hashtag #ThatWanakaTree.

This hashtag has made the tree famous, and now famous photographers, as well as just interested tourists, gather around the tree trying to make their claim to fame with the best #thatwanakatree photo!


What Is It Like To Visit?

photographing that wanaka tree
I was surprised at how many people were at the tree especially since it wasn’t the busy season for tourists in Wanaka!

We decided to check out That Wanaka Tree for ourselves the other day. We went for the golden hour, to watch the sunset behind the mountains and the Wanaka Tree.

When we arrived there were already many people gathered on the beach around the tree. Photographers were set up along the water’s edge with their tripods and multiple lenses.

Overseas tourists took selfies on smartphones, some people were videoing with GoPros and I could even hear a drone hovering overhead. It was definitely a tourist attraction.

The number of people there definitely was a distraction from what could’ve been a beautiful place to sit and watch the sunset. Some people were actually walking up to the tree in the freezing cold lake to get their picture taken with the tree!

Of course, Daniel got right in there next to the other photographers to try and get that perfect shot, but as luck would have it, the sunset was not very good that evening and our photos turned out to be only average.

sunset photo of that wanaka tree
The best sunset photo we could get!
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Is The Wanaka Tree Worth A Visit?

wanaka tree in the daytime
The Wanaka Tree in the day time.

Although I do believe it is a very over touristic attraction, it’s still worth a look. The tree is so close to Wanaka and as such very convenient to visit.

But the truth is, as a few of the other over-photographed places in New Zealand, the sheer number of tourists can take away from the magic. We found this to be the case when we visited the Church of Good Shepard, another inst famous spot in New Zealand’s South Island.

Overall Wanaka is so much more than the Wanaka Tree. In fact its the baby brother of the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown. So instead of sitting by the lake with a thousand other people, get out there and explore!


So, what should you do in Wanaka?

Roys peak on our road trip
Roys Peak is a hike that offers some incredible viewpoints!

Well the truth is that there are some amazing things to do in Wanaka (besides visiting the tree!) Here are some of my top picks for ways to spend your time in Wanaka:

Go Hiking

Roys Peak is only a short 10-minute drive from Wanaka and is one of my personal favorite day hikes in New Zealand. For something a little off-the-beaten-path, head over to Diamond lake and tackle a couple of the trails there!

Related Read:   8 Must-Do Day Hikes in Queenstown

Enjoy the lake

Lake Wanaka is stunning and there are a couple of ways to enjoy this beautiful body of water. You can walk along the foreshore, have a drink at a pub with a view, go paddleboarding or kayaking, enjoy a scenic boat cruise, or even go jet boating!

Get Adventurous

Wanaka offers the chance to get that adrenaline flowing. Go skydiving, climb a waterfall (Via Ferrata), go whitewater rafting, or even tackle kayaking in river rapids! Oh, and don’t forget about skiing and snowboarding in the winter! These adventure activities will surely be ones to remember!

Explore Nearby Attractions

Head over to Cardrona and see the famous fence of bras, explore the bustling town of Queenstown on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, head into Mount Aspiring National Park and check out the world-famous Blue Pools, or even explore the gorgeous Lavender Farm on the edge of town.

The possibilities really are endless and you could spend several days exploring all of the attractions near Wanaka!

Here are some tours we recommend to make your trip to Wanaka one to remember!


Where to Stay in Wanaka

ramada in wanka
Photo Credit: Ramada Wanaka

Whether you want to check out The Wanaka Tree for yourself or explore the other things to do around town, you’re gonna need somewhere to sleep! I’ve visiting Wanaka and stayed there countless times so I know where the best places to stay really are. Here are my recommendations suited for every budget:

Holly’s Backpackers (Low Budget)

Holly’s Backpackers offers dorm rooms for less than $30 NZD a night and private doubles for under $70. The hostel is centrally located and walking distance to the supermarket, pubs, and attractions. It offers huge communal areas for hanging out and meeting new people.

Manuka Crescent Motel (Mid-range Budget)

Manuka Crescent Motel offers beautiful rooms and apartments, lots of parking (ideal if you’re traveling in a car or motorhome), and a quiet scenic location. While it is a couple of minutes from the town center, it is very peaceful and still within walking distance. The prices start from $150 NZD a night for a studio room.

Ramada Resort by Wyndham

The Ramada Resort in Wanaka is gorgeous! The ground and outdoor pools are beautiful and the perfect place to relax. They have a bar and cafe as well as a fitness center, BBQ area, and self-serve laundry facilities. It is also located just around the corner for The Wanaka Tree!


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-Bailey

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