Kay Hannam and partner Brian Williams had never tramped naked before they met.
"When I said I like to be all natural in the bush, it didn't quite register with him at first," she says.
"I was the naturist and he was the tramper, so we just merged."
Being nude with attitude comes naturally to Kay Hannam, who prefers to work and play unencumbered by clothes.
It's a passion she wants to share, both through Wai Natur, the naturist park she and Brian run in Wairau Valley township, and through excursions tramping in St Arnaud, boating in the Marlborough Sounds, or cruising the Wairau River.
"We usually get a few smiles. We were having a tramp at St Arnaud one year and we saw this American woman, who just said, ‘Wow, this is a surprise!"'
The couple began sharing their love of naturism in 1998, when they set up a homestay south of Lake Tekapo, eventually expanding into a naturist park.
Back then the Mackenzie Muster Naturist Festival was a big annual event, bringing crowds to enjoy activities such as the Bare Buns Cross-Country Fun Run and Brian's Dog Trials.
However, after eight years and unable to purchase the property, the couple decided to start over in Marlborough, knowing Wai Natur's gardens, pool and proximity to a river would appeal.
"Lots of people pile on the bikes and head down to the river for a skinny dip," says Ms Hannam.
"One year there was a bunch of motorcycle club members outside the pub in all their leather gear, when half a dozen naturists streamed past on bikes."
Overseas visitors love that there are so many areas around Marlborough they can go au natural.
Despite that, it's been a hard road building up clientele for the new location, while facing the challenges of recession.
One of their attractions has been the annual Nudie Foodies Sounds Adventure, which this year will be replaced by the Nude Adventure, an outing on the River Queen.
"We're going to cruise down the river and at a convenient place, if people feel inclined to get their kit off, then they can."
She says their lifestyle business is largely about providing a service to the naturist community.
The couple entered the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards last year, and have thrown their hat in the ring again for the 2012 event.
"I think it's a refresher course on how we are handling our business. It's been quite enlightening reading through what I did last year and the judges' comments and how we can improve things."
Ms Hannam is now writing her memoirs Nude with Attitude, to be finished next year.
This is part of a series highlighting the businesses entered in this year's Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. The winners will be announced at the gala dinner on November 16.
The Marlborough Express