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Slope Point, New Zealand

Slope Point

The most southerly spot on New Zealand's South Island is home to surreally shaped, permanently mangled trees. 

Slope Point, the most southerly spot on New Zealand’s South Island, is perched upon rugged cliffs that dip into the sea. Cold winds tear through the air, battering the land and all that grows upon it. The weather is so fierce that the whipping winds have left a patch of trees weirdly warped.

The tangled trees stretch sideways rather than upwards. They’re bent at odd angles, their branches permanently coiffed to the side like a permanent, ill-advised hairdo.

Sheep farmers planted the trees to give their flocks shelter from the wild weather. Cold air whirls around the Antarctic Ocean uninterrupted, causing the winds to gain immense strength before hurling themselves at whatever objects they first encounter. The trees struggled to bear the brunt of the windy assault, causing them to bend northward.

On a pleasant day, beams of sunlight spotlight the gnarled knot, giving it the appearance of a surreal piece of art. Against the ominous gray skies of a drearier visit, the mangled mass seems almost sinister.

Slope Point is a beautiful place to explore. Green pastureland stretches toward the horizon, leading to the rocky cliffs that plunge into the water below. The place is sparsely habitated, apart from the sheep that dot the landscape.

A sign by the road gestures toward Slope Point. You’ll know you’re there when you come across a canary yellow sign that gives the distance between your location, the South Pole, and the Equator. 

Know Before You Go

GPS coordinates lead to the Slope Point sign. Public access is prohibited during lambing season.