A national week celebrating naturism is encouraging people to "go natural", but it appears few people around South Canterbury are keen to get their kit off.
The annual "go natural week" of the New Zealand Naturist Federation runs October 24 to November 1, and naturists throughout the country will be celebrating.
Timaru's local naturist venue, the South Canterbury Sun Club, will not be holding any specific events for the week but the group is still active and strong.
The Oamaru-based president, who preferred not to be named, said the club had 55 members.
However, few were actually from South Canterbury with most from Christchurch, Ashburton and some from Dunedin.
They hold a club weekend about once a month at the Old Trip Settlement School, which he said they maintained, and had recently repainted.
There are also regular events on the calendar, including a beach party in June and a prostitutes party in November.
"They are always a laugh. We actually get dressed for those."
There is also a themed camp being planned, and a four wheel drive trip that will follow the national rally held near Christchurch over the Christmas-New Year period.
The 65-year-old president said he had indulged in the naturist lifestyle since the early 1970s, but did not go "racing around with a big banner" announcing it.
"I don't personally hang a shingle outside our place saying we are members, but I'm not ashamed or embarrassed of it either.
"It's quite pleasant really. Imagine standing in the shower with your clothes on, well it's just the reverse really."
He said the club did not advertise but there were contacts available in the phone book and online so that those who were genuinely interested would get get in touch.
The most difficult part was trying not to offend other people by their choice.
He said while a national group was getting together to do the Otago Rail Trail in January 2010 he felt the timing was inappropriate, as there may be families using the trail at that time. "You can't be pinged for indecent behaviour by being naked, but you can still create offence and get done for offensive behaviour."
Next week's "go natural week" is aimed at helping "closet" naturists find a local venue so that they can find out more about the many health benefits of naturism.
New Zealand Naturist Federation communications officer Glenne Findon said naturism was a holistic approach to healthy living which led to an improvement in your physical and mental health, all stemming from feeling better about yourself and your body.
"The massaging effect of nature's elements on the skin creates a feeling of well-being and exhilaration, and is a huge stress release."
Ms Findon said many people, especially women, thought that their bodies were not good enough to bare in front of others, but as a naturist you were accepted for who you were and not what you looked like."When naked, the euphoria created leads to an increase in confidence and self esteem, making you feel more comfortable with your body."
- © Fairfax NZ News