The Bending Trees of Slope Point, New Zealand’s South Island

The windswept trees of Slope Point

photography by: itravelNZ/ Flickr

There are many inhospitable places all over the world, yet only a fraction of which are as easily accessible as the far reaches of Te Waipounamu. Situated roughly midway between the equator and the south pole, Slope Point is the southernmost point of New Zealand's South Island. As it turns out, this harsh environment is home to a rather bizarre phenomenon, a smattering of trees which are permanently bent by the area's strong winds.

Best known as the southern tip of New-Zealand’s South Island, Slope Point is almost halfway between the south pole and the equator. Due to its exceptional location, the area experiences incessant bursts of Antarctic gales all day long and all year round. Without any substantial landmass between the South Island and the frozen continent, the strong winds pummel Slope Point with sheer ferocity, making the place practically uninhabitable.

 

Nonetheless, life has managed to gain a foothold even in such a hostile environment. In fact, Slope Point’s verdant promontories are home to a natural oddity like no other. Amid the otherwise treeless meadow lies a cluster of trees, whose canopies succumbed to the strong winds by growing sideways. Those lone trees were originally planted by local shepherds who sought to provide a shelter for their grazing sheep.

 

Over the years, the trees were steadily sculpted by the violent and relentless air currents, absorbing the wind patterns as they grow northwards. Intrepid hikers who visit the area won’t encounter many of their fellow humans, instead, they would most likely be surrounded by throngs of sheep which dot the landscape. While the windswept trees are located right next to the Slope Point’s main parking lot, the actual southernmost point of Te Waipounamu is located a further 20 minutes away by foot.

The sign indicating the whereabouts of the southernmost point of the South Island

photography by: Daniel Stockman/ Flickr


Hundreds of sheep roam around the point's verdant cliffs

photography by: Daniel Stockman/ Flickr


The trees were planted to provide a respite to the grazing animals from the harsh weather conditions

photography by: itravelNZ/ Flickr


Sculpted by the ferocious gales, the bending trees of Slope Point

photography by: Ben/ Flickr


The trees stand out as the only ones across the treeless landscape

photography by: itravelNZ/ Flickr


The actual point is marked by a sign that indicates the distance to the equator and the south pole

photography by: Vašek Vinklát/ Flickr