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Dipping your toes in the world of naturism
« on: February 05, 2015, 11:52:23 pm »
Summer is the perfect time for some people to get their kit off and let it all hang out.

Free Beaches New Zealand president Mike Ward is a committed year-round naturist and the organisational force behind a lot of Canterbury's naturist events.

Ward lives in North Canterbury but originally hails from Britain, where he got into naturism at a young age. In Europe, he says, there is a large naturist culture and lots of beaches specifically designated for clothes-free gatherings.

Part of New Zealand's appeal is its lack of nudist-designated beaches, he says. In New Zealand, you can go naked on any beach as long as you aren't disturbing anyone else or behaving offensively.

Ward's first naturist experience happened soon after he got married and visited a designated nudist beach in Britain.

"Naturism wasn't part of my upbringing. But it was such an amazing, incredible experience. It took my breath away."

To him, swimming with togs on is like "eating lollies with the wrappers on".

"What on earth do people have that they think no-one else has?"

He thinks naturism is the ultimate social leveller - and, if anything, naturists are far less judgmental than anyone else.

Ward has never had any problems from clothed people who stumble upon a naturist gathering on the beach. In fact, he says a recent survey shows most New Zealanders don't have a problem with people taking their clothes off in public places, even if they don't want to take part themselves.

"All I get is a cheery wave."

While the Canterbury naturism community practises all year round, summer is arguably the best time for being naked, thanks to the temperate weather.

Free Beaches has a calendar of events lined up around the country that anyone can attend. Some of them, like Skinny Dipping Down a Moonbeam in New Brighton, are particularly appealing for first-timers.

Ward says skinny dipping is something many people have done before - and the cover of semi-darkness helps with any residual shyness.

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