Leave your hat on, but that's it at nudist club

By Jen Dillner

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Driving north in an empty car, devoid of friends, singing one of my favourite Joe Cocker songs, I am excited yet nervous as I head to Rapere, the Hawke's Bay Naturist Club.

Belting out "You can leave your hat on" I smile and think, yep, that is a perfect heading for my story.

I have no idea what to expect or how I am going to react. I tell myself it will be fine but notice the closer I get to the driveway the slower I am going. Mind you, once I turned in and drove around the corner I realised I had just discovered a wee piece of paradise. What a backdrop. An oasis. Suddenly my nerves abated (a little bit) as I threw the car keys on the front seat and wandered off to find a naked host. Full-time resident Kay Marsh met me and gave me a tour of the grounds. There is a club house, Norm's Lodge (accommodation), swimming pool, spa pool, volleyball, petanque pit, trampoline, sandpit and permanent sites where members can bring their caravan or camper thereby having their own residence.

Not everyone is nude, some wear a sarong or shirt. I was feeling particularly nervous about taking off my own clothes. Luckily while hovering in the bathroom, plucking up courage to de-robe, I met permanent resident Caroline Ball.

Upon telling her I was nervous, apprehensive and a little shy she said "don't be".

"Just do whatever you are comfortable with. There are no rules, except putting a towel on the seat before sitting down!"

Actually I am fairly brown already, but once the undergarments came off it was pretty obvious certain parts of my anatomy had never seen the sun!

With a sarong around my waist, I headed out into the common area, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down.

Honestly? At first I felt a little weird. Making sure I looked people in the eye, too scared to look anywhere else. Definitely surreal.

As the day progressed and I talked to people of all ages I began to feel comfortable.

Sunblock! I had forgotten the sunblock and as I sat chatting, I became aware of the fact that those certain white areas were going to need protecting. Suffice it to say I was given some before I turned beet red.

There is no pretence, no airs and graces. As one man pointed out, I could be a millionaire and the bloke next to me a pauper.

Being nude is grounding, we are all the same - human!

Wow, thought I, that is so true, and from that moment on - I got it!

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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