The practices of nude sunbathing and "meercatting" on a notorious section of Papamoa beach has been discussed in a council meeting this afternoon.

Tauranga City Council's community and culture committee was considering a reviewed Beaches Bylaw.

Staff had elected not to include anything in the bylaw about nudity on the beach, but councillors said it was an issue that residents regularly raised with them.

Mount Maunganui/Papamoa ward councillor Steve Morris said residents had spoken to him about an area of Papamoa Beach which had historically been known for nude sunbathing.


It's understood the area he was referring to was off Sandhurst Drive. The beach, near the junction of Maranui St and Papamoa Beach Rd, has been enjoyed by nudists for decades.

It was formerly bordered by farmland, which had since been developed for housing.

Morris said nearby residents who had spoken to him were less concerned about naked sunbathers and more worried about seeing "meercats" in the nearby sand dunes.

He described meercats as "gentlemen who pop up in the sand dunes like meercats ... soliciting each other's interest".

His description was supported by non-voting committee member Pine McLeod, who said he grew up in the area and it was a known practice.

"If you see umbrellas going up, meercats are there."

The land was private property, he said, and trustees representing the owners had tried a few years ago to figure out a way to stop the practice, without success.

There were also issues with so-called 'meercats' digging holes that damaged the dunes, and lighting fires, McLeod said.


The council committee said it wanted to hear community views about beach nudity through the bylaw community consultation process.