Nudist defends naked swimming at Waiheke Island after criticism from locals

Girl at the sea. Naked young woman going into the sea. Focus foreground
Photo credit: Getty/file

A proud naturist is defending the rights of people to swim sans togs, as complaints about naked bathers are on the rise on Waiheke Island.

Free Beaches NZ president Mike Ward has been swimming nude for the last four decades, and says naturists have happily flocked to Waiheke Island beaches for the last 30 years.

"Once you have tried it, you really can't go back to the idea that wearing togs is anything like a sensible thing," he told RadioLIVE on Thursday.

"It absolutely isn't - it's completely second-rate."

Mr Ward added that he believes swimming with togs on is "rather like eating a lolly with the wrapper on".

But he admits the nudist movement on the island has become "a victim of its own success" after exploding in popularity - and lately, there have been increasing complaints.

Mr Ward says Free Beaches members support the normalisation of "enjoying the beaches in the natural state, the state we have for many hundreds of thousands of years".

The organisation has a code of ethics for naked swimming enthusiasts, and the organisation encourages people to seek out the most private beaches.

But there are increasingly fewer private places to swim available, so the group wants to encourage the of 'cohabitation' of naturists and those they call "textiles" - people who wear togs.