Do you like to read success stories? I certainly do, whether it is in business, personal achievements or even in nature. There is just something inspirational about true success. Let me tell you how one of the most photographed trees in the world is a success story. You might say “how can a tree have a success story?” Here’s how that happened.
Nestled in the midst of Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand is the little town of Wanaka. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty that is synonymous with New Zealand, Wanaka is the home of a very famous willow tree. “That Wanaka Tree” as it is known in social media (#thatwanakatree) is one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand and possibly the world. Yet, That Wanaka Tree started life as a fence post! Yes, you’ve read correctly, a fence post.
Around 80 years ago, the Wanaka Tree started life as a fence post. A local Wanaka, artist and writer, Gwenda Rowlands, remembers a fence line that included a fence post that was a branch that had been hacked off from nearby willow trees. That fencepost sprouted and has now come to be seen as a symbol of determination and known as “That Wanaka Tree”. The fence post that didn’t give up!
I must confess to having a slight obsession with the beauty of this tree in its natural surroundings in Wanaka and have wanted to photograph it for a long time. In September 2019 I would get my opportunity as we planned a holiday in New Zealand.
My excitement was mounting on our trip as the time grew closer to when we would be staying at Wanaka. I had never given one thought to the water level being low, however due to lack of rain the lake’s level had dropped significantly and I found myself staring at a tree with hardly any water around it! This totally threw me, and, as we were staying in Wanaka for a week, I knew I had to think creatively on how to photograph this tree.
Water or not, photographing the tree was very special. I spent most mornings and evenings at the lakeside, huddled amidst other photographers from around the world. Even though the weather wasn’t exactly thrilling, I’m thankful for the images that I was able to take.
I have learned a valuable lesson of determination from the fencepost that didn’t give up!