Naked New Zealand - A Voyage of Natural Discovery


New Zealand boasts more than 15 official sun and naturist clubs with probably just as many associate operations. While the climate as you head further south in the country may dim the enthusiasm for naturists, there're still ardent followers prepared to brave the elements. Says Pete from Riverton at the bottom of the rugged South Island coast, 'I find the jutty outcrops inspiring and feel a kind of stirring when I see them before my very eyes'. Nudism in the teeth of a howling and frigid southerly gale straight of the Southern Ocean, is not an issue for Derek either. 'Sure there're days when I struggle to find myself', he says 'though then the clouds disappear and like my gerberas, I'm reaching for the sun again'.

Author John Dunne isnt too shy to get his kit off in the Great NZ Outdoors

How do I find out more?

There's no doubt recommendations from trusted sources is the way to go. Says Pam from the winterless north of the country, 'I wasn't sure at first, though once I opened up to people, it's as if everyone was suddenly there for me, I'll definitely be coming again', she gushed.

Which is exactly what it's all about?

The ethos of these operations is about non judgemental inclusion, respect and privacy.
Which may seem a contradiction in terms given the nature of things, though a couple of the key guidelines are 'do not stare' and be considerate of another's personal space. One you've identified a destination, the direct approach for enquiries is best. Check our the New Zealand Naturist Federation for further information.

What's not to like - activities for all

The official club setup throughout the country is generally impressive. Large sprawling grounds, wooded areas, swimming pools, motel like accommodation, tennis courts and in some cases beach frontages. There're also some family options, while the Mapua Leisure Park near the top of the South island is the only clothes optional Holiday Park in the country. That option applies only in February and March, though it's a feature that Mapua has become famous for and caters for all ages.

What's not to like, laughs Ruby, 'we had a visit from a West Indian volleyball team a couple of years ago and their on court prowess was amazing. Everyone came out to watch and it was a great afternoon as they went at it against some locals. Though in the end, the visitors were just that extra yard or two ahead of everyone else'.

Though you don't have to whirl around on the sports grounds to enjoy the experience. The venues encourage you to set your own pace and do your own thing, where you involve yourself with others as much as you want.

Golfing in the buff

How dangerous is the New Zealand sun?

The intensity of the New Zealand, especially in the summer months, is rated as among the most powerful in the world. We have naturally high UV levels compared with similar latitudes elsewhere. For example, New Zealand  can be 40% higher than peak UV levels in similar North American latitudes. So be warned..
New Zealanders are very susceptible to sunburn and this is largely due to the fact that the ozone layer over the country is thin and can diminish even more in summer. Hence skin cancer is a major problem here and why the Cancer Society is active in promoting recommended sun block products.
You can purchase appropriate sunblocks at Chemist outlets, without prescription and similarly at Warehouse, Mitre 10 and Bunnings stores. Be sure to check the product carries the Cancer Societies minimum SPF 50 reading.
The Societies 'Slip, slap, slop' tagline, is something the sun and naturist clubs eagerly adopt and are very keen on.

Am I better off in the North Island or the South Island?

New Zealand's North island is generally warmer though the far north can experience summer cyclones. Point being New Zealand, being such narrow isles, is affected by Pacific and Tasman Ocean storms, notwithstanding the hugely cold surges than can travel north from the Southern Ocean, especially in the winter months, bringing snow to low levels.

The country is no stranger to earthquakes either, though historically the worst shakes in recent times have been in the central South Island. As one Canterbury sun worshiper near Christchurch put it in February of 2011, 'this is the ring of fire after all..'

As a rule of thumb the majority of  'clubs' are in the North island and in coastal areas. With Auckland being the most populated city in New Zealand, so the sun and naturist movements are strongest there, though as we discussed earlier, they're still popular further south.

Given that naturism is a way of life based on the definition of 'a way of life in harmony with nature, expressed through social, non sexual nudity, bearing in mind self respect and respect of the environment', arguably one of the best places to begin your introduction to the practise in this country, is on the Coromandel Peninsula. The seclusion of a benign beach and favorable locals makes for an easy transition.
The most popular areas, are probably  Hawkes Bay's, Bay of Plenty, Peka Peka Beach on the Kapiti Coast, Little Palm beach on Waiheke Island, Breaker Bay in Wellington, The Canterbury Sun Club, Todger Bay in the Abel Tasman district and Ladies Bay at St Heliers in Auckland.

The Rules

This the standard etiquette up and down the country and does NOT differ from club to club, beach to beach, park to park.

The rules are pretty simple and speak 'common sense'. Familiarize yourself with the local rules..

  • Don't stare..
  • Leave your camera at home..
  • Carry a towel everywhere you go..
  • Apply sun screen liberally on all exposed skin..
  • Keep your distance from others..
  • Don't try any 'hanky panky'..
Appropriately named Streak Inn

Will I be out of place in New Zealand as a 'Naturist”?

You'll never be out of place for shucking your gear off in New Zealand as long as you do so with consideration of others.
Some famous New Zealanders have been huge supporters of the nudist movement.
In relatively recent times a prominent, now deceased, television news presenter, Ms Angela D'Audney, bared her breasts in the sex farce The Venus Touch, in 1982 and although she died in 2002 was rightly proud of her topless moment, with supporters suggesting  'her nipples caused ripples'..and all in the name of art.
To say nothing of the now also late Max Todger, who has the aforementioned bay in the Abel Tasman area, named after him. Todger famously shortened his Latin christian name of Maximus to Max, by deed poll, in protest at Hollywood star, Russell Crowe, adopting Australia over his birth place of New Zealand. As he said about Crowe, in Vanity Fair magazine, after the 'Gladiator' movie, 'The bastard pulled up short'.

Suffice to say if this is your favoured lifestyle, then New Zealand has it here for you..just ask.
My friend Steph sums it up well, 'We're all safe in this gig cos I'm happy in the knowledge I'll never recall a face..'

Have we given you the NATURALIST travel bug? We can help with that!

Our New Zealand Self Drive Itineraries are a great place to start or Contact Us to discuss a bespoke itinerary developed with our expert travel consultants.

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John Dunne - broadcaster, writer, skibum, sailor
John Dunne
: 15 Feb 2023 (Last updated: 17 Feb 2023)

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