A controversial attempt to break the collective skinny dipping world record failed to make history at Papamoa, but drew a diverse crowd of brave participants nonetheless.

The Edge radio station proposed the New Zealand attempt to surpass the current Guinness World Record of 413 nude dippers, hosting swims on consecutive days in the South and North Islands.

Yesterday's dip was voted to be held at Mount Maunganui but was moved to Harrison's Cut in Papamoa to avoid clashing with other events already booked in the area.

The North Island attempt drew 299 registrations - with more than 100 clothed onlookers - while the South Island attempt held in Christchurch on Saturday attracted 226 registrations.


The Edge breakfast host Dom Harvey took part, shedding his shirt and shorts before diving into the sea with the 298 other naked bodies.

"The water's bloody freezing but there's a really good community vibe, funnily enough," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"This is a huge improvement on Christchurch. The day before we had 226 and still 114 to go for the world record. We'll just have to keep doing it until we get it and make this an annual occasion."

The event attracted the young, old, large, small, and Asian tourists.

Chinese man Shuqun Zhou drove from Hastings to Papamoa specifically to take part. "I think to break the world record is a bit crazy. And [I'd like to be] doing some crazy things before I get old and boring," the 30-year-old said.

Engaged couple Paul Scott, 31, and Kelly Hunt, 23, caught a bus from Hamilton chartered for the event.

"We are getting married in January and this is something a bit different," Ms Hunt said.

Mr Scott said it was a little nerve-racking but "if it's a little scary, you should do it".

Papamoa resident Kevin Prince stumbled across the event while going for a walk along the beach.

After inquiring what was going on, the 59-year-old joined in.

"I thought 'what the hell'. You've got to do it once in your life don't you?"

Mr Prince said he saw the Christchurch attempt on television and said it looked like fun.

"I'm not an exhibitionist or naturist but I'll give it a go."

Members of the Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club and St John Ambulance staff were on hand and screens were erected to help shield the nudity.

Keen photographer Jeanette Nee used the event to help add to her portfolio of work.

Ms Nee, 69, is a member of the Tauranga Photographic Society where members have been asked to focus on photojournalism - capturing something unique that no one else has been able to capture.

"It's a fun event. If there are prudes out there, they don't have to come," she said.

When the dip was first announced in October, Family First NZ national director Bob McCoskrie labelled it as highly offensive and "completely unacceptable".