The Tree Church – Ohaupo, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

The Tree Church

Ohaupo, New Zealand

One man's dream has turned into this naturally growing chapel made of almost nothing but trees. 


Many people see the face of God in the beauty of nature, but few have ever taken this to the extent of Barry Cox, the infinitely patient creator of New Zealand’s Tree Church.

According to his website, Cox has long appreciated the beauty of churches he has seen across the world during his travels, and finally decided to create one of his own. Cox runs a service that safely uproots trees using a truck mounted scoop called a “tree spade,” and replants them elsewhere. Using his preexisting equipment and know-how, Cox began planting a variety of trees on his land to form portions of the church, each chosen for a different quality. For instance, the walls were planted with leptospernums for their color, and the roof was created using cut leaf alders for their sparse canopy that would allow the natural light into the space.

The project began in 2011, and the planted trees were delicately trained across an iron frame until they began to grow together to shape the gabled form of the church. The church has continued to grow over the years and is now almost completely formed, although the iron frame remains, waiting for the day when the structure will be sturdy enough to stand on its own.

Today the Tree Church is open for weddings and events, and can seat up to a hundred guests. Cox’s grounds also include green garden walks and a medieval-style labyrinth. Outdoor weddings are always a gamble, but at least this one provides a roof either way. 

Know Before You Go

The Tree Church is open to the public on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups and private events are arranged by appointment only. Admissions $20 per adult, children under 14 $10, children under 5 no cost.

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