Rising out of shallow water, its delicate limbs highlighted against snow-capped mountains, the lone willow is photogenic to say the least.

The famous Lake Wanaka Tree is a major draw for snap-happy tourists, but as we've seen with #instafame, viral holiday photos can come at a terrible price, news.com.au reports.

The tree is literally breaking under the strain of tourists.

Travellers have been wading across the lake's shallow waters to climb the tree, which is of a fragile species called crack willow.

Advertisement

As the name suggests, it's named for its brittle wood — indeed, a branch snapped off just before Christmas.

As its roots are often submerged in freezing water the tree is slow growing, which has officials understandably concerned about the damage being inflicted.

So much so, the New Zealand Tourism Board will install anti-climbing warning signs around the tree — both English and Mandarin.

Sadly, this is not the first time insta-obsessed fans have caused destruction to the natural world.

Last August, a baby dolphin died after tourists took it out of the water and posed with it for selfies on a Spanish beach.

Posted by Equinac on Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The selfie-trade is also doing substantial damage to wildlife in the Amazon.

In footage released to news.com.au, the World Animal Protection (WAP) captured a tour guide climbing a tree, yanking a sloth from a branch, and bringing it down for tourists to photograph. It is said to be a common practice in the region.

Conservationists have reason to believe that most sloths that are captured and repeatedly used in tourist selfies don't survive longer than six months.

So the next time a mate climbs an attraction, or poses with a wild animal, it might be worth a reminder: "look, but please don't touch."