Authorities stumped as Fairlie's king tree crowned by traffic cone

Fairlie residents are stumped after the town's tallest tree, a 50m-high Spruce, was adorned with a rubbery crown.
CHRIS HYDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Fairlie residents are stumped after the town's tallest tree, a 50m-high Spruce, was adorned with a rubbery crown.

Was it a bird? A plane?

No, but residents of Fairlie in South Canterbury reckon whoever or whatever put a road cone on top of their town's tallest tree over Easter weekend must have some sort of super power.

Residents could barely believe their eyes on Tuesday morning as they spotted the 50-metre high Spruce tree beside the clock on the village green sporting a new rubbery crown.

Julie Campbell was bemused.

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"It's been put up there with levitation," she said with a smile.

"Nobody would climb that, surely. The branches would just bend over. It's impossible."

Maureen McColl, one of the first to see it, said it was absolutely crazy but it had to be a climber.

"Road cones are too heavy for a drone and surely we would have heard a helicopter."

Authorities were equally dumbfounded. They quickly condemned the actions of the unknown culprit, while also paying homage to their sheer guts.

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"It's a pretty good effort that's for sure," Fairlie Senior Constable Russell Halkett said.

"It's totally foolhardy and we wouldn't encourage it at all but I've never seen anyone even attempt anything like it before and I've been here 12 years.

"If you fell from that height you'd be pretty much dead."

Mackenzie District Council community facilities manager Garth Nixon said his first reaction on seeing the road cone was that whoever had put it there was "incredibly game".

"Having been three-quarters of the way up that tree I can tell you the tree itself starts to get pretty skinny," Nixon said.

"I've tried to think about the logistics of climbing it, and to do it while carrying a road cone, even with ropes - let's just say I was amazed."

Nixon said the cone was now sitting so high on such a skinny branch that it was a public safety hazard in any sort of wind.

"It's actually a real pain because it could easily come off and if it comes off it could end up in the middle of the road.

"It's also a pain because of the difficulty we will have in removing it.

"Our only options are an arborist or if that doesn't work, we have to bring in a crane."

Nixon had a message for potential copy-cats: Please refrain.

 - Stuff

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