Topless OK, but swim between flags

A pair of boobs at Opunake beach sparked an official police visit to the normally peaceful stretch of sand yesterday afternoon.

Senior Sergeant Mike Hannah received calls from a man and a woman complaining about a topless sunbather at the beach some time after lunch.

"I went down there and had a look," he said.

"She was topless sunbathing. I went and had a chat with the lifeguards. I said it was not an offence."

Mr Hannah said the middle-aged woman was not approaching anyone and was about 20 metres from the nearest group of sunbathers.

"And they were a group of three girls," he said.

Though sunbathing topless was not an offence, Mr Hannah said exposing reproductive organs was.

This meant men would immediately get in trouble for dropping their pants but the same was not always the case if women went nude.

Holiday makers Louise Lahmert and Maria Lombard of Manawatu had witnessed the topless woman as they supervised their children dig a pond and an intricate canal system on the beach.

"It wasn't in your face; it was quite natural," Mrs Lahmert said.

"My kids have seen me in my knickers; they know what boobies are," Mrs Lombard said.

The woman had gone swimming, then come back to the sand to sunbathe they said. She had not drawn attention to herself and had been accompanied by an older man.

While she was walking back from her swim the pair witnessed one woman forcibly stop a man – who may have been her husband – from looking at the topless swimmer.

"I think we were all a bit jealous," Mrs Lombard said. "We would have loved to have done what she did."

Head lifeguard Sophie Trolove would neither confirm nor deny the topless incident, saying she would lose her job if she talked to the media.

"I can only say this: Our main concern is that you swim between the flags whether you are clothed or in the nude."

Taranaki Daily News