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New Zealand's Walking Tree

A lone tree that looks like it’s out for a stroll has been crowned the 2024 Tree of the Year in New Zealand.

This extraordinary Metrosideros robusta, nicknamed The Walking Tree, ‘walked away’ with the award bestowed by the New Zealand Arboricultural Association. Located near a cemetery in South Island, its quirky leg-style trunks immediately conjure Tolkien’s sentient walking Ents in the fantasy trilogy Lord of the Rings

“The Walking Tree was nominated by Bryan Bell, who highlighted its remarkable form and captivating presence,” said the Association in a statement. “With its twin trunks stretched as if in mid-stride—and seemingly wearing high heels—this tree is a striking natural wonder.”

The majestic tree, from the species also known as northern rātā, is already registered on The New Zealand Tree Registry, and was the clear favorite here, running off with 42% of the total votes from among six finalists.

Addressing the tree’s age, the Association says, “It remains a mystery just how long this windswept walker has been strutting its stuff north of Karamea.”

The northern rātā, which can live for up to 1,000 years, is one of New Zealand’s tallest flowering trees. It begins as a plant-like epiphyte growing high in the forest canopy upon another host tree. Over time, its roots reach the ground, and it eventually envelops the original tree.


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