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Every society and social group in the world has them in some form or other, but exactly what do we mean by the


By Rok

28 September 2020

Naturist Etiquette.jpg

The Cambridge Dictionary defines it succinctly as “the set of rules or customs that control accepted behaviour in particular social groups or social situations.”  Wikipedia  elaborates on it further as "the set of conventional rules of personal behaviour in polite society, usually in the form of an ethical code that delineates the expected and accepted social behaviours that accord with the conventions and norms observed by a society, a social class, or a social group."


At first glance, it would seem, then, that Naturism, with its claims of “acceptance of all”, would have a problem advocating and expecting a strict code of behaviour to be observed by all its followers.  What happens to those who refuse to recognise the rules?  Are they then excluded from the group?  Maybe the ideals of “acceptance of all” is laced with conditions?


Dame Mary Douglas was a British anthropologist, known for her writings on human culture.  In her book "Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo", published in 2003, she states "that the unique manners, social behaviours, and group rituals enable the local cosmology to remain ordered and free from those things that may pollute or defile the integrity of the culture. That ideas of pollution, defilement, and disgust are attached to the margins of socially acceptable behaviour in order to curtail unacceptable behaviour, and so maintain “the assumptions by which experience is controlled” within the culture."


In human psychology, we are taught that the various matters of social etiquette fall into one of three categories: Personal Hygiene, Courtesy toward Others, and Cultural Norms.  The first two are usually taught to the child at a very early age by the parent.  Cultural Norm manners are acquired more by immersion in the culture or social group to which we belong.  They are the set of behaviours that identify us as part of that group and allow us to determine whether or not another person is to be trusted as a genuine member of that group.  And, like it or not, we have an innate and inescapable requirement to ensure that those in our common community, society or social group adhere to our own set of cultural norms.  Woe betide those that transgress!


Naturists, too, are no exception.  While we do accept people of different races, creeds, sexual orientation, genders, etc. we do have our own set of manners and etiquettes that we identify with.  These generally sit alongside those other cultural norms that might vary according to a person’s race and background.  Some matters of naturist etiquette are quite strict, while others are a little more relaxed due to personal convictions and preferences.


Hauraki Naturally fervently supports the generally accepted codes of etiquette that are observed in this country.  It's important that people wishing to get naked in New Zealand behave appropriately.  So, let’s have a look at what is expected of us as members of our Naturist Culture.


Firstly, just because it's legal to get naked on our beaches, rivers, lakes, forest trails and other great outdoors locations, that doesn't mean we have free reign to do so without regard for other people's comfort and opinion.  If we want to promote the ideals of Naturism among the community at large, we need to remember that the actions of one naked person can (and unfortunately sometimes do) greatly affect the opinions of others towards naturists in general. We are attempting to educate the general public to recognise the immense benefits of our philosophy, and we need to do so with care are kindness!


So, here we go:

Naturist Etiquette


Respect non-naturist neighbours

There are NO official nudist beaches in New Zealand.  Beaches known for regular naturist use are NOT for the sole use of naturists.  Be friendly and respect other people's comfort.  They may not like you being nude and they don't have to like it.  Deal with it!


The general rule is that when you arrive on a beach where there are clothed people, keep at least 50 meters away from them before taking your clothes off.  If you are on a beach well away from clothed people and one or more walk up the beach towards you, stay where you are, sit in a position that maintains discretion, and let them make the choice as to whether they walk past you or turn around.  In our experience 99 people out of 100 are not worried in the least about walking past naked sunbathers.

Respect each other's privacy

Respect your neighbour’s space.  Looking is normal, but staring is rude.  Keep your music volume low.  You may love it but others may not.

Bring a towel

If you are visiting a club or naturist resort, it is expected that you put a towel down on any chair, bench, or other surface where you will sit.  This obviously doesn’t apply on beaches or other clothing-optional places.



Be aware of how you are sitting.  You don’t have to hide your genital area away from view, but lounging back with your legs wide apart is considered disrespectful flaunting.

Also be aware of anyone behind you while you’re bending over to pick something up or tie your shoe laces.  No explanation needed!

No sexual activity!

Responsible naturists have zero tolerance for lewd behaviour.  It's not appropriate on a public beach – any beach!  Guys – don’t walk around flaunting an erection!  Check out our FAQ page for advice on how to deal with unwanted erections.  Otherwise, get a boat and go find a deserted island!

And Keep conversation respectable.  Waltzing up to someone and complimenting them with “Nice balls!” is not appropriate!



First – the law:

It’s generally lawful to take and/or publish photos or film people in public places such as a beach, shopping mall, park or other public place without their consent.  There is no expectation of privacy in these places.

You must not, however, film or take photos of people if they are in a place where they can expect privacy (such as a public changing area or toilet) and that person:

  • Is naked, in underclothes, showering, toileting etc

  • Is unaware of being filmed or photographed, or

  • Has not consented to be filmed or photographed.


You should not take photos of people if:

  • They are in a place where they would expect reasonable privacy and publication would be highly offensive to an objective and reasonable person

  • It has potential to stop other people’s use and enjoyment of the same place, or

  • You have no legitimate reason for taking the film or photos.


Regardless of your rights under the law, Naturist Etiquette takes it a step further.  Because some naturists or nudists choose to keep their lifestyle discreet, we recognise that they have the right to reasonable privacy even in public places such as the beach.  So don’t photograph other nudists without their knowledge or permission.  And most definitely don’t publish such photos on any internet site without their permission.  And don’t take photos of kids, especially when naked, without permission of their parents.  If in doubt, ask first! 

Don’t litter

Keep the beach clean and pick up stray litter you find, especially broken glass!  Cigarette butts do NOT belong in the sea or on the sand.  Dispose of them properly.

Stay out of the dunes!

People loitering among the sand dunes are viewed with suspicion of lewd behaviour.  We call them “Meerkats”.  Also, sand dunes are generally environmentally sensitive areas, so keep off them.

Do your part, as a good citizen, to keep the beach safe and secure for all.  Don’t tolerate inappropriate behaviour; report it to council patrol or the police at once.


The question of whether or not genital jewellery is appropriate in a public naturist / nudist situation

is hotly debated amongst naturists.


In an ideal world, people should be able to enjoy the right to individuality when it comes to wearing jewellery or other adornments on their body.  Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world.  At the present time nudism or naturism is still viewed by the majority of New Zealand society as an alternative lifestyle and not the generally accepted “norm”.  If we are to change that attitude, we must be careful to present the lifestyle as “squeaky clean” as possible, so that we cannot be accused of promoting a way of life that focuses on anything that could be construed as sexual.

The problem with genital jewellery is that it draws attention to a person’s sexual organs, whether that is the intention or not.  While we agree that you shouldn’t be forced to justify something you consider to be natural, it still doesn’t change other people's attitudes.  Until the general public start to view nudism as normal, it will continue to be a minority lifestyle and we will have to fight, not only to extend our privileges, but also to keep what we’ve already won.

Our aim is to promote the enjoyment of being naked in New Zealand to “normal” mainstream society.  Therefore it’s considered bad form to engage in anything that will discourage “normal” people from getting involved.  In New Zealand we have no laws against being naked in public in the kinds of locations where it’s appropriate – beaches, rivers, forests, etc. – so long as there is no offensive or lewd behaviour going on.  In many other countries, nudists do not have such freedom as we enjoy, but it would not take much to cause our own lawmakers to take that freedom from us also.

For these reasons, we strongly discourage you from wearing genital jewellery at all nudist / naturist locations, particularly those clothing-optional places where “textiles” are also present.

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