It was the most popular beach in Auckland yesterday - and it wasn't the swimming that drew the crowds.

Ladies Bay in St Heliers attracted more than its usual share of visitors after the Herald reported that nudists were upsetting tourists.

Among the visitors was air force pilot Nick Hall, 27, who grew up in the area. He said the naked beach users never gave him problems.

"As a kid, we would be running around in front of them, and they would pretty much just keep to themselves," he said.


Mr Hall returned to the bay with his girlfriend, Gina Kindred, 24, after she read the report and wanted to find out what the fuss was about.

Ms Kindred thought it was "great for Auckland to have a place where people could go for a full body tan".

Former local Tanya Fernandez, 28, who now lives in Sydney, says nude swimmers were "part of the landscape of Ladies Bay".

"They've been around for as long as I can remember, and everyone here knows they're there.

"If people don't like it, then don't look."

Ella Bogers, from St Heliers, was one of more than 100 readers who responded to the Herald's report. She said she had stopped going after an unpleasant experience.

"When I was 14 and my sister 18, we went to Ladies Bay for an afternoon swim and were followed up the stairway and along Cliff Rd by a man with an erection," she said.

"It was quite a lesson ... and we have never gone back."


One upset local, who declined to be named, said publicity about the beach drew even more people.

"These perverts come armed with binoculars, cameras, even telescopes, and they've got their voyeuristic equipment aimed at our homes just as often as they have them on those naked bodies."

She said the voyeurs also littered the area with cigarette butts, cans and drink bottles.

Nestled beneath Cliff Rd and its multimillion-dollar mansions, Ladies Bay has long been a nude swimming area despite never being designated as one.

Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said the council was considering putting up signs saying indecent exposure was an offence.

Readers mostly supported those who bared all, but Peter Lucas objected.

He said aggressive exhibitionists were driving away young people and families who would otherwise be able to enjoy the best sheltered swimming beach south of the bridge.

Readers respond

The best response is probably laughter.
Anne Martin

My wife and I for many years have gone naked at various beaches whilst swimming. We still do. Yes, we do have a problem with exhibitionists. They are not welcome.
Leslee Hazeldine

I am not a nudist or naturist myself but I really don't see why it is such a problem. The council should classify it as a nudist beach and tour operators should use a little more commonsense while showing off our country.
Jared Withington

It is well known that those who invite the world to admire their unclothed bodies are the ones with the least to boast about. The best response is probably laughter, as these lumps and bumps and dangly bits do look rather comical.
Anne Martin

The law is clear - it is an offence to be nude, but only if someone is offended and complains to the police, who must tell the person they are offending. So if the beaches are known to be nude beaches and someone who is likely to be offended goes there, or runs a tour group there (what are they thinking?), that is hardly offensive behaviour.
Malcolm Falconer

Nude bathing should be confined to the coastline around the point at the east end of Ladies Bay.This is an area already used for that purpose and is well out of the way of the public.
Peter Lucas

I do not agree with nudity in public places. There are naturist clubs which people can join, and they have their own back yards. If we allow nude beaches, the next thing will be sex beaches. Somewhere we have to draw a line in the sand and enforce it.
Roger Evans

Ladies Bay has always been widely known as a nudist beach. I have no sympathy for tourists being offended by the sight of genitals. My sympathy is for the nudists having prurient gawkers interrupt their summer pursuits.
Laura Watson

The council needs to put up signs to advise people that they might see naked people if they go any further. We need official nude beaches for people so no one gets surprised. Nude beaches are great.
Stephen Barlow

In my opinion anyone who wants to bathe nude needs to go somewhere totally secluded. This is illegal and intimidating and should be treated as such and should also bring a hefty fine.

I am no prude. There are places on the West Coast and elsewhere where genuine nudists can sunbathe discreetly and no one is likely to complain. However, it sounds like many at Ladies Bay are just perverts. There should be signs stating that public nudity may be prosecuted.
Chuck Bird