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100-foot 'walking tree' in New Zealand looks like an Ent from Lord of the Rings — and is the lone survivor of a lost forest

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A bizarre, giant tree with a pair of leg-like trunks looks like an Ent from "The Lord of the Rings" — and it has just been crowned New Zealand's Tree of the Year after strolling past the rest of the comPetition.   

The strange tree, which has been nicknamed the "walking tree" because it looks like it's striding across a field, is a northern rātā (Metrosideros robusta) — one of New Zealand's tallest flowering tree species that can live for up to 1,000 years. It's roots and long, arm-like branches make the tree look like an Ent — a fictional race of tree-like creatures that guard the forests of Middle-earth.

The tree stands alone in the middle of a large paddock next to a cemetery near Karamea on the west coast of South Island. It is around 105 feet (32 meters) tall — around the same height as a seven-story building, according to The New Zealand Tree Register.  

The walking tree was the clear winner of the 2024 edition of the New Zealand Arboricultural Association's (NZ Arb) Tree of the Year award, walking away with 42% of the public vote, which included five other finalists, according to a statement emailed to Live Science.

"It just strode out into the lead right from the very start," comPetition organizer Brad Cadwallader told Radio New Zealand.

The walking tree is an "exceptional feature" and a "prime example of the remarkable trees that we, as New Zealanders, are fortunate to experience," NZ Arb president Richie Hill said in the statement.

Related: The oldest tree in the world (and the 7 runner-ups)

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