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Morning at the Wanaka Tree

Kyle Huber


Behind the Shot

In the shadow of Mount Aspiring National Park, the Wanaka Tree stands just offshore in Roy’s Bay in Lake Wanaka, on New Zealand’s South Island.

In June, the first month of winter in New Zealand, Kyle, traveling with a tour group, visited the town of Wanaka. “Our motel was only about a five-minute walk from this location, and I was fascinated by the tree. Over the course of a few days I caught epic sunrises and sunsets here, and took advantage of these views as much as possible. I shot this tree so many times—sunrise, sunset, midday, morning and night. I finally got this shot in the early morning. The mist was still over the water, and a duck was swimming along, creating the most gentle ripple. A big storm was coming in, and the weather was getting pretty rough. I was lucky to get this shot before things got too stormy.”

Unfortunately, though, Kyle was one of the last photographers to capture the Wanaka Tree in this condition. “Shortly after our visit someone vandalized the tree, breaking off the branches closest to the water. Luckily, the person was caught and got in big trouble, but the tree will never look the same again.”