'Arrogant' homeowners accused of poisoning trees to claim lake views

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 29, 2024

A row of poplar trees that line Lake Wānaka along Beacon Point are on the chopping block after they were poisoned by an unknown offender two years ago. 

The responsibility of removing trees on public land falls on the Queenstown Lakes District Council's shoulders, and the bill to remove these 40-odd trees could be up to $20,000.

The trees were known to obstruct the view of some houses positioned on Beacon Point Road, Baker Grove and Penrith Park Drive.

A Wānaka arborist has told Crux their business has been called on to respond to a number of similarly damaged trees in recent years. 

The arborist, who has asked to remain anonymous, believes some locals are intentionally harming trees out of "arrogance", because they feel entitled to an unobstructed lake view.

They acknowledge that while the local council does receive some "flak" for its spending, in these cases it is left to pay for the clean up job from other people's bad behaviour.

Deputy mayor and Wānaka resident Quentin Smith says he is disappointed "intentional vandalism" has led to the long-term loss of these trees.

Mr Smith says he would consider beefing up the council's tree policy to attempt to hold these vandals to account.

"I think there has to be real and tangible consequences."

While he says it can be difficult to pinpoint who is responsible for the poisoning of a tree without a witness, he has another novel idea to deter potential offenders.

"I've seen in other countries, in Australia and others, where trees have been intentionally poisoned, they'll put a banner or a billboard up on those trees saying this tree has been poisoned.

"So the person who poisoned it, theoretically, has to stare at the banner for the next couple of years, which is quite a natural justice approach."

Mr Smith says under the council's current tree policy the protection or enhancement of a view is not a valid reason for the removal of a tree.

"People should report it (tree vandalism) if they see or know anything, to avoid the costs on ratepayers."

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has been approached for comment and is expected to provide a statement tomorrow.

Main image: A row of poisoned trees line Lake Wānaka at Beacon Point.

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux