A concerned father has spoken out after his 8 -year-old daughter was confronted by the sight of a naked man sunbathing while she was collecting rubbish on Pāpāmoa Beach.
Dave Laidlaw, 41, was walking along the beach towards the Mount from Pacific View Rd with his two young daughters and was shocked when they saw the naked man because there were no signs indicating it was a nudist area.
"[She] spotted some plastic, and with the tide right up was walking along the base of the dunes looking for more rubbish to collect when she stumbled on to a fully nude man. It gave her a hell of a fright."
Laidlaw did not lay a complaint with the police or council because he understood it was a designated nudist area.
The section of beach, near the junction of Maranui St and Pāpāmoa Beach Rd, has been used by nudists for decades.
However, according to the council, there is no designated area for nude sunbathing in Tauranga.
Laidlaw believed issues arise because of the location.
"It gave her a hell of a fright and it dawned on me how incredibly inappropriate that was.
"I don't understand why it's in the middle of a popular stretch of beach where dozens of families, elderly residents and visitors walk, with no signage and unclear borders," he said.
Fellow local resident Ngaire Weir, 78, who has lived in Pāpāmoa for 24 years, avoids walking near where people sunbathed naked and thinks it should be moved to a more secluded area.
"There are a lot of young children around here now. There are no signs to say it is [a nudist beach]," she said.
"We know we can't do anything about it. There are people on this street who have talked about it quite a few times but they've done nothing about it."
But another local resident, who did not want to be named, believed people should "get over it" because it is part of the area's history, and people had been sunbathing nude in the area for more than 50 years.
"You don't change the world because one person one time sees something they don't like," she said.
"Most of them [the nudists] are good people."
She said if someone deliberately exposed themselves in the area other nudists would ask them to leave.
"I've seen it over the years."
Chris, 58, who did not want his last name published, visited Pāpāmoa Beach regularly and had no issues with the location.
"We've enjoyed nudist beaches all over the world and it's such a natural thing. And on such a long beach to have one [area] designated as a nudist beach is a huge tourist draw."
Tauranga City Council general manager of regulatory and compliance, Barbara Dempsey, said there was no designated area for nude sunbathing in Tauranga.
However, nude sunbathing in a public place was not expressly illegal.
Some types of behaviour may constitute indecent exposure under the Summary Offences Act 1981 and should be reported to police.
A spokesperson for the police said members of the public should contact police immediately if they witness behaviour they believe to be inappropriate.
The council has not received any complaints regarding nude sunbathing since March 2020 but police had received one report over the last week referring to a naked female walking in the vicinity of Pāpāmoa Beach. Police in the area were unable to locate the female.