'Dirty blokes' ruining bare-all bay

By Jenny MacIntyre

Perverts and predators have invaded one of Auckland's prime all-tide beaches. And residents in the multimillion-dollar mansions overlooking Ladies Bay, St Heliers, say the naked beachgoers are attracting voyeurs and troublemakers.

"It's putrid. There are some dirty blokes down there. You can see they are predators," said Kala, 30, who won't take her 8-year-old daughter to the beach because of the "perverts".

On Thursday, locals Sarah Grant and her friend Sophia Ridings, both 20, were "grossed out" by a naked "serial offender" who moved close beside them, displaying his genitals.

"It's disgusting. It gives me the creeps and ruins it for everyone else," said Ridings.

Historically, Ladies Bay was a nude swimming area for women, with neighbouring Gentleman's Bay popular with naturist men.

Beachgoers said now, more than 80 per cent of the naked visitors to Ladies Bay were male.

The beaches are tucked away at the end of St Heliers Beach, beneath Cliff Rd. They used to be far away from prying eyes but increased development and the Achilles Point lookout high above have drawn more people to the area.

Residents - who pay more than $8000 a year in rates - say some of the visitors are voyeurs, armed with cameras and binoculars.

One local, Jane, said she didn't have a problem with nudism, but wanted the people and behaviour it encouraged to be policed.

David Wallis from Whenuapai, and Pete, a regular nudist in his mid-60s, said they wished the exhibitionists would go away. "Some people are using nudism for their own excitement," he said.

Feisty topless bather Amanda Letherbridge chased one man up the hill when she found him watching her while performing an indecent act. "I told him he was a disgusting pig. If I see it I can't not react."

But she is no match for the crowd that gathers above the beach "gawking", laughing, making rude comments and throwing stones and bottles. Letherbridge said last year she was nearly killed by a bottle that landed close to her head.

"It was really scary."

Auckland city councillor for Eastern Bays Toni Millar said a fire had destroyed most of the green cover that had given some privacy to naked sunbathers. She said one of Auckland's best swimming beaches was being ruined and the area needs round-the-clock policing because people had been beaten after challenging troublemakers. "I no longer feel safe to go swimming there. I wouldn't contemplate it."

Perverts aren't the only problem for residents, who said youths with booming sound systems and crates of alcohol regularly took over the area at night, defying parking and alcohol bans and buying drugs.

In the mornings council staff cleared away syringes, condoms, graffiti, bottles and rubbish.

One resident, a middle-aged man whose wife is frightened to go to the beach, said: "Man, we get some weirdos. The area is an absolute disgrace to Auckland city and it should be a showplace."

Glen Innes Senior Sergeant Graeme Porter said police had stepped up patrols after receiving complaints about "seedy sexual behaviour".

"I don't see why families can't go to the beach without harassment from sexually pervasive behaviour."

The fine for indecent exposure is $200, but Porter said the stigma associated with arrest would be more of a deterrent. There were many company cars parked at the bay, and police would call employers to embarrass offenders.

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