Karamea Walking Tree wins 2024 Tree of the Year New Zealand

05 June 2024
Development West Coast
The New Zealand Arboricultural Association (NZ Arb) is delighted to announce The Walking Tree as the winner of the 2024 Tree of the Year New Zealand award.

This extraordinary northern rātā (Metrosideros robusta), located near the Karamea Cemetery, captivated the hearts and imaginations of New Zealanders with its unique appearance and fascinating life story.

The Walking Tree was nominated by Bryan Bell, who highlighted its remarkable form and captivating presence. With its twin trunks stretched as if in mid-stride – and seemingly wearing high heels – this tree is a striking natural wonder. Its resemblance to one of Tolkien’s sentient, tree-like Ents has earned it the affectionate nickname, The Walking Tree. The tree was the clear favourite in the competition, running off with over 42% of total votes. Organisers were more than happy with the level of participation with voting more than double that from last year.

The northern rātā is one of New Zealand’s tallest flowering trees. Surprisingly, it begins life as an epiphyte growing high in the forest canopy upon another host tree. Over time, its roots reach the ground, and it eventually envelops the original host. Northern rātā can live for up to 1,000 years, and it remains a mystery just how long this windswept walker has been strutting its stuff north of Karamea.

The 2024 Tree of the Year campaign, run by NZ Arb, is proudly sponsored by Delta and supported by the NZ Notable Trees Trust and the New Zealand Tree Register. This annual event celebrates the incredible trees that are an integral part of New Zealand’s natural heritage and part of our communities.

Richie Hill, president of NZ Arb, stated, "The Walking Tree is a prime example of the remarkable trees that we, as New Zealanders, are fortunate to experience. This award recognises the significant role that trees play within our communities, not only enhancing our local environments but also providing a sense of place for past, present, and future generations. The Walking Tree is an exceptional feature and a must-see destination, highlighting the uniqueness and diversity that exists within New Zealand’s notable tree population.”

Heath Milne, chief executive of Development West Coast, remarked, "The Walking Tree’s win is a fantastic recognition of the natural wonders we have here on the West Coast. We invite everyone to visit the amazing little town of Karamea and see the Walking Tree strut its stuff in person.”

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