In the past two weeks I have seen a lot of bodies. Bodies of water and human bodies.
So many different rivers, lakes and beaches that I find it hard to believe I haven’t been on the road for months and months. Not quite as many naked bodies but still quite a few for only two weeks. In our day to day lives we don’t often see naked people except for our sexual partners. In the last fourteen days I’ve seen eleven. With each one I’ve had a totally platonic time, nothing weird or untoward. Fancy that aye!? Eleven different, and yet all basically the same, bodies. Each one with its own qualities, quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Each one naked and free not worrying about what the others around are thinking of it. They have been young and old ranging from 20s to 70s and everything in between. Ranging from life long naturists to first time skinny dippers, but not one of them has told me they find it weird or uncomfortable. Looks like people do enjoy being naked just like me!
The bodies of water I have seen and dipped in have been some of the most beautifully clear waters I have ever seen in my life. This country should win some kind of award for the most swimmable country on earth. Almost every corner that I turn there is a new wonderland of freedom, seclusion and stunning beauty to be played in. On the east coast I’ve walked for hours on wild beaches where my only companions are seals. In marvelous Marlborough I’ve jumped into river after river of the bluest blues. In Nelson lakes I’ve showered under the spray of a waterfall and jumped off jettys. Now, in Abel Tasman I am attempting to escape the crowds and find some beach seclusion.
I am most certainly in a frenzy on this trip, darting from place to place. I arrive at one amazing swimming hole, I swim, I take some photos, I write a little, then I must move on to explore the next. So many places to go, so little time! Amongst all the beauty and seclusion there has also been plenty of wild goose chases. Times I have driven for what seems like an eternity down winding gravel roads, then scrambled through bushes, scratching my legs on brambles. Only to find a rough, rocky river flowing at such a speed that if I were to jump in, I’d be swept off and never seen again. Or times when I have arrived at a place of incredible natural beauty, strolled around a little, set up the camera and tripod, been just about to take my clothes off and then some hikers appear. This has happened twice. Luckily, I haven’t been caught with my trousers down! Not yet anyway!
Part of my mission is trying to get random Joe public involved in photo shoots for the book. It has gone down surprisingly well so far. My first recruit was a fellow camper at Canaan downs DOC campsite. After chatting for a while he reveals he has NEVER been skinny dipping! I see my chance and swoop in. Thankfully he’s an open minded kinda guy, always up for new experiences. A Yes man! It was incredible to take someone for their first ever skinny dip, to see his face light up with joy as he basked in the freedom. This is what the book is all about, this is my purpose and my mission. To bring this joy and feeling of freedom to others. And it’s working, I can’t believe it. Their joy brings me so much joy.
Many people I have spoken to see skinny dipping as a cheeky drunken thing they might do on a night out. I say why not do it when you’re sober and clear headed and can enjoy the experience fully without a hangover? Nudity is not illegal in this country (and many others) as long as it is not done with lude or inappropriate intentions. Yet most of us are raised to see nudity as something weird and inappropriate. I was raised with a saying in my house: “weird good, norm bad”. So, I am here to question the norm that I see around me. I have questioned the norm of wearing bathing suits and decided to me, it is better without. As I travel around on this skinny dip road trip, I am finding people who agree with me.
In life I thrive off new experiences. New people, places, food, music. Anything that I haven’t seen or tried before. This trip sure is ticking boxes for me. I spend my time searching for new spots where I can swim and new people to join me. I am driving through parts of New Zealand that I have visited before but this trip takes me to a new level of exploration. I am discovering gold around corners and down roads that I never would have thought to look before. All the while meeting new people and introducing them to new experiences: first time skinny dippers and first time nude models. A big first for me has been asking complete strangers if they want to get naked and let me take photos of them! So far so good, but I’m sure to get some rejections soon enough. I hope my morale and self esteem can handle it.
Now I’m wondering…when was the last time you did something for the first time?