Slope Point, located at the southernmost point of New Zealand’s South Island, is a truly unique place. Due to the strong Antarctic winds, the trees here stretch sideways rather than upwards, creating an eerie, but beautiful landscape.
Cold air from the Antarctic Ocean swirls around Slope Point, which lies approximately 24 km from the small settlement of Waikawa, uninterrupted. When this cold air collides with the exposed coastal area, the resulting winds are so fierce that the trees here are perpetually warped and grow in an almost horizontal manner.
These tough, enduring shrubs were originally planted by sheep farmers to give their flocks some protection from the savage weather. As they struggle to bear the brunt of the windy assault, they bend northward in a uniform fashion.
Upon arrival, the visitor is greeted by a canary yellow sign showing the distance between Slope Point, the South Pole, and the Equator.
On a pleasant day, beams of sunlight penetrate the gray, sinister-looking clouds, giving the impression of a surreal artistic masterpiece.
Indeed, Slope Point is a beautiful place to hike, with the green pastureland stretching toward the horizon, leading to the rocky cliffs that plunge into the water below. You’ll hardly encounter anyone here apart from other hikers and the sheep dotting the rolling hillsides.
Against all odds, a few venturesome folks have chosen the place as their home, but they might be gone now.
The winds that batter Slope Point are so strong and persistent that trees are molded into strangely and beautifully twisted shapes.