One local told Stuff, “The famous lower branch that hangs horizontally out over the water that is really picturesque has gone.”
Locals reported seeing some branches that had been sawed off washed up on shore.
Many consider the tree, which appears to be rising alone out the water, a symbol of hope.
Despite its out-of-the-way location — there are no posted signs or wayfinders — travelers will drive there just to get a snapshot, and a small local economy has sprung up around it.
The park is as notable for its fauna as for its flora — this is the only known home of the kea, the world’s only alpine parrot species.
New Zealand has a keen interest in preserving its many beautiful natural places.
“We have a deep and symbiotic relationship with our environment here in New Zealand,” Stephen England-Hall, CEO of Tourism New Zealand, told CNN Travel when the promise made its debut.
“You are welcome to come and to experience our landscape, but we want you to please be mindful of the fact that it’s a really important place.”
Sadly, That Wanaka Tree is not the only natural site to deal with vandalism. In fact, it’s not even the only tree.
California’s popular Joshua Tree National Park has also dealt with the repercussions of social media fame and overtourism.