In a scene reminiscent

of Tolkien’s Middle-earth,

a solitary northern rātā tree

with a striking resemblance to a walking Ent

has been crowned New Zealand’s 2024 Tree of the Year.

That’s most fitting seeing how  the Lord of The Rings

was filmed in the picturesque country.

Nicknamed the “Walking Tree”

for its impressive forked trunk,

this champion stands alone in a field,

right next to a cemetery

on the west coast of South Island

— a testament to both

the enduring character of New Zealand’s native flora

and the environmental challenges they face.