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The beginning.

How Abbey caves changed my life.

A year and a half ago a chance encounter in a cave changed my life forever. Some may say it was pure chance, or good fortune, that brought us together that summer’s day in New Zealand. Others may say it was fate, the gods or the universe. Personally, I like to believe it was meant to happen and we were fated to meet. But who really knows? One thing I am certain of is that no matter what made it happen, I am bloody glad it did!

The story starts back in 2016, in a salvation army second hand shop in Queenstown, N.Z. I’m with my friend, Trinity, an American from Bend, Oregon. We work together in an Italian restaurant in town. Both on working holiday visas, living the dream in N.Z, on extended holidays. Working dead end jobs only when we have to. Making the most of the mountains, lake and nightlife at every opportunity. Not a care in the world because we are out there to have a good time, not for a long time.

We stand amongst the bookshelves filled with out-of-date lonely planet guides and worn out copies of lord of the rings. Trinity is excitedly telling me about a book she is desperate to find: ‘N.Z Frenzy’. It’s a New Zealand guide book like no other. In a class of its own, a million miles from lonely planet or rough guide. An ‘off the beaten track’ adventurer’s guide. She’s read guide books about her home town, and surrounding area in Oregon, written by the same author. As she’s talking, she stops mid-sentence. She stands gawking with an open jaw, pointing to the bookshelf behind me. There it is! With its bright yellow spine shining out from behind me. The two of us were pretty excited and, I’m not too proud to say, we did some screeching, clapping and jumping right then and there in the salvation army.

What a coincidence!

How lucky!

Perhaps I’m her lucky charm?!

That was my first introduction to Scott Cook’s N.Z Frenzy. On the way home I leafed through the pages, glancing at the black and white photos and reading humorous snippets. It was the north island edition, the island I hadn’t been to yet. The book fuelled my dreams of visiting the north island and planted the seed of a road trip up there.

A year later, December 2017, I’m embarking on said road trip. Travelling with Trinity and another friend, Lorna. N.Z Frenzy is our main source of information and whenever we come to a new area, we consult Scott Cook’s book to see what’s worth visiting. Time and time again we are blown away by the sights we see. The hidden beaches, deserted hiking trails, unknown glow worm caves and incredible camping spots that we never ever would have found without this incredible book.

Trin, me and Lorna in a hot spring on our travels.

N.Z Frenzy gets renamed on our trip and is known by us simply as ‘The Bible’. We make jokes about bumping into Scott on a hike or sharing a beer with him up a mountain. We ponder at how he has put together such an extensive book about New Zealand. Because of his adventurous nature, honest writing, love of puns and love of nature this guy has become our hero. On our way up one of many incredible forest tracks we decide we will write him an email after our road trip is over. We’ll thank and congratulate him for writing such a wonderful book. Little did we know, an email would be completely unnecessary by the end of our trip. 

By February I am still road tripping with Lorna but Trinity is elsewhere now. Lorna and I continue our travels and our devotion to our Bible, with Rachel, a friend from England who has joined us. We are in the very north of New Zealand near Whangarei. We have followed directions from the guide book to Abbey caves: incredibly vast sandstone caves. We strap on our head torches and delve in. A few hundred meters through dark, curved passages we explore without seeing a soul. There is water gently flowing past our ankles (sometimes getting up to knee deep) and the odd mini waterfall to clamber up. Such an adventure, such beautiful smooth rock walls surrounding us. So far N.Z has provided many stunning caves. Some with rivers running through them, some with glow worms, some with stalactites and stalagmites. But Abbey caves were about to trump the lot!

This is how we road trip 😉

We turn a corner and hear voices ahead of us. Loud, male, American voices. We sigh at the thought of having to share our uninhabited caves with others. One of the intruders (who we soon find out is big Mike) shouts out to us. So, we reluctantly wade through the stream to where we see their head torches lighting the cave walls. The two guys are eager to talk, especially big Mike. They are excitable and likable and we soon forget our reluctance to share this special place with them. Mike tells us his story. He’s from Phoenix and his friend is from Oregon and has written a guide book about NZ. Slowly pieces are taking shape in my head. I am listening politely, nodding along as Mike talks. Trying to piece together the puzzle. Something here is sounding familiar but I can’t quite tell what the finished picture looks like. A light bulb sparked in my brain when Mike said Oregon. I know Scott Cook is from Oregon. But I don’t even want to let that seed grow in my mind. I tell myself not to be silly, our chats about sharing a beer with Scott were just school girl fantasies. We’re not going to bump into him a few hundred meters inside a dark cave.

But as Mike keeps talking, I can’t help myself, I have to rule out this crazy day dream I’m having.

“What is the name of your book?” I ask Mike’s friend.

“NZ Frenzy” Scott replies.

The screams of excitement in the salvation army were nothing compared to the noise Lorna and I make in that cave. I’ve never met a celebrity or had a public figure that I regard as my hero so I’ve never acted like this before, or since. I screech and shriek and, honestly, my eyes well up with tears! This guide book writer is my hero and here I am in a deserted cave with him! My life hasn’t been the same since that day…

Exploring the incredible Abbey caves (after we’d all become friends and decided it’d be much more fun to explore naked!)

We became fast friends: Scott, Mike, Lorna, Rachel and I. As a group we travelled some of the north island together. Scott took us to some of his personal favourites from NZ Frenzy and some new spots that he hadn’t explored yet. He told us of his idea for a new book ‘Newd Zealand’-a skinny dippers guide. In us he had found kindred spirits who love nudity and skinny dipping. We spent the days on deserted beaches and at remote waterfalls frolicking naked and free. Every night we’d set up camp somewhere beautiful, crack open the chilly bin full of beers and recount the crazy antics of the day. We had ditched our favourite guide book to be guided around by the author of it instead. Who needs NZ Frenzy when you have the real-life Scott Cook?!

Five friends who (sometimes) wear clothes.

Meeting Scott has changed the course of my life. When he asked me to work with him on his new project how could I possibly say no? It’s a dream come true for me. We have now joined forces to create a whole new breed of guide books. The world’s FIRST books of this kind! More about the books in the next blog post

Making the books has given me purpose and I have found my calling. No longer am I an aimless traveller. I feel like an activist now. I wish to help others throw away some of their worries, find an escape from the pressures of society and reconnect with their natural selves and mother nature. I wish to help put a stop to the body shaming and judgement we force on each other and set people free to have fun with their fabulous bodies in the fabulous natural world.

What’s your superpower?

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be? I like to think we’ve all got a superpower already, that we can all be superheroes if we just harness our natural abilities. The way I see it, your superpower is that one quality that is especially strong in you. That thing that everyone who knows you would think of when they think of you. It’s part of what makes you uniquely you. It could be that you’re an incredible listener, or a non-stop talker, you could have an imagination that can transport you anywhere, or be able to think of a song for any occasion, maybe you make the best sourdough, or you can crack a joke in any situation. Anyway, you get it, it’s that thing that you do that others remember you for. I think if we figure out what that is and use it for the good of others then we can all be superheros in our own right. My superpower is getting people naked! I’ve always been persuasive, been an instigator, but now I’ve honed in my persuasive nature to what I really want people to do-to get naked.

I gotta say though, so far I have been kinda spoiled. I’m not sure my “superpower” has been truly tested yet. Last summer in New Zealand it didn’t prove too difficult to encourage people to get naked. We were mostly in breathtakingly beautiful places with crystalline water to jump in. And mostly the people joining us were free-spirited young travellers, far from home, seeking adventure. Not hard people to persuade to strip off and jump in. So I wanna see if my persuasions could work on Brits in their home country. It’s time to put my superpower to the test.

Not hard to persuade people to strip off & jump in when the water is this beautiful!

First I better give you an update on where I’m at:

The book Newd Zealand is on long term pause. Covid has screwed that up for us. Like so many other people, we had to change plans, thanks a lot covid! 😦 After four years of living in NZ my visa came to an end. With covid troubles screwing up travel, it seemed to be time to return home…. Home?… England?… The country that hasn’t been my home for over four years. The country I chose to leave, but in a crisis is the place I must go back to. Reluctant to head straight back “home”, I decided to take a layover in the US on the way back, a two and a half month layover! I joined Scott on his home turf of Oregon to explore the Pacific Northwest with him. I flew from winter in NZ to summer in the US to continue my skinny dipping life. We buried our heads under waterfalls and hid from the state of the world. We hid in the forest, skinny dipping and exploring as long as we could until the reality of things caught up with us. Oh reality, you always catch up with us in the end. Out of the forest I emerged, time to dry off and put my clothes back on. Time to find a job in the U.K! Aahhh!

Hiding under waterfalls

But in the time I’ve been away I’ve been working on my superpower, building my strength. So I’m back in the U.K, but I don’t plan on giving up my naked adventuring lifestyle. Oh no, not one bit. Since coming back I have to spend 14 days in quarantine. Enough time to remind me just how important nature is to me. I’m on day 11, and trust me, 11 days of not leaving the house is enough to make me swear to never ever take my freedom for granted ever again! It’s enough time to make me deeply grateful for all the adventures I’ve been lucky enough to have. And more than enough time to inspire me to seek naked adventures in my home country. As I said in my post Social distance dipping. I believe there’s plenty of others in the UK also desperate for adventure right now during all this covid depression. I’m sure there’s people out there who wanna spice up their daily routine a little. So I’m gonna try my powers of persuasion on them. It might be much harder to find beautiful, secluded places here than in NZ. But I’ll try my best. 

Last year I came home for a visit and I got a little practice in trying to persuade Brits to strip off with me. I wasn’t so rehearsed in my nude persuasion tricks back then, but I did manage to get some friends to join me for some nudity. I persuaded my four best friends from my hometown to join me on a cold autumn day at a muddy lake edge. It wasn’t the best thought-out or well planned adventure, there were a lot of wet shoes and cold feet but hey, they came along and had a laugh. On another occasion a small group of us went for a dip in a similarly muddy-edged river. It turned out to be far from the best skinny dip spot, with mud, murky water and two dog walkers happening upon us! But, once again, we had a laugh and I think we made the dog walker’s day. Finding seclusion is not so easy in England. Yes there are naturist beaches, but that’s not really my style. I like to go into the wilderness where there is no-one else. I don’t enjoy the thought of pervy strangers that you so often find at naturist beaches. I like to know that no-one else is going to be there, that’s when I feel free! 

My naked besties

The other big obstacle here is going to be the weather, it has been raining about 80% of the time since I returned, but as always, I am optimistic! In N.Z I swam every day during June for my personal challenge of 30 days of winter dips. And I often had others join me. For the winter solstice we had a group of 12 of us strip off for a swim in lake Wanaka. The air that day was 3 degrees C and the water was 9.6 degrees C. Yet all 12 of us had a wonderful time and some people even returned to dip with me on other days! Another time I managed to persuade strangers to join me naked in the snow atop a mountain, so I’m not the only one mad enough to get naked in the cold. I know there’s others out there in England, I just gotta find them, or use my superpower to persuade them!! 

Naked strangers loving life atop Isthmus peak in N.Z

Look out Britain, I’m coming to get you Naked!!

Social distance dipping.

Is skinny dipping the ultimate social distance activity? 

Let’s look at the pros: It gets you away from crowds. It gets you out the house. It’s good for mental health. It’s good exercise. It’s an escape from everything that’s going on in the world. You don’t need any money, anyone else or anything at all in fact, except your own skin. Sounds like the perfect activity in this social distance covid world, wouldn’t you say?

It dawned on me during lockdown that what Scott has been teaching me this past year (how to find these remote hidden swimming spots and where the out-the-way unknown camping spots are) is the ultimate social distance strategy. In the forest you can forget about covid, you can forget about the problems of the world and just enjoy the trees. When you’re getting off the beaten path to seek out skinny dipping spots you don’t need to worry about social distancing because there’s no-one around. If there are others around then it ain’t a good skinny dipping spot and you better move on. Turns out Scott is a master of social distancing, he’s been doing it for years. Thanks to his skills I was able to fly to the US during a global pandemic, continue to do what I love and not be at any risk of the virus. Skinny dipping=social distancing!

Peace & quiet in the forest

There’s no denying that this covid bullshit is getting everyone down. But we gotta roll with the punches aye!? Got to adapt and try to make the best of the situation. A great time to try something new I figure. 

Why not search for that secret little swim hole where you can be naked and free? We can’t be as social as usual, but we can use this time to get to know ourselves better and to get to know our natural world better. Get exploring in your own backyard, see what your home country has to offer. If you’re desperate for something new and exciting right now after spending so much time at home, if you fancy some adventure, liberation or a little escape, a wild swim could be just what ya need. A wild swim without your swim suit could be even more of an adventure! 

Find a secluded spot, throw off your suits and have an adventure!

As I’ve bleeted on about in previous blog posts, skinny dipping is one of the best ways to connect with nature, and an incredible way to connect with yourself, build your self esteem and self confidence. If the state of our world has been getting you down or if you’re feeling anxious or fed up, then the calming effect of the water could really help. I believe a little more connection to nature can be a great remedy for all when times are tough. 

Could this be the age of the skinny dip!?!

It’s the perfect way to social distance. Looking for a spot to skinny dip forces you to go a little further off the path, a little further up the river, away from the crowds, away from the towns. In spending this time alone in nature you might just find some respite from the world’s problems. You might find some peace from your own personal problems. You might even discover something new about yourself or discover a wonderful new hobby. Or, hey if you don’t like it then no-one ever even needs to know you tried it. What have you got to lose? I mean, there’s not much else going on right now. 

What have you got to lose?

How not to skinny dip.

The water I’ve dipped in this winter has averaged around 9℃/48℉. Which is chilly, but bearable. So here I’m gonna tell you the story of my most extreme skinny dip. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or any kind of extreme athlete, so this isn’t a groundbreaking story of incredible human accomplishment, or something that no one else has ever done before. More this is a story of a lesson learnt and advice on how not to skinny dip! I hope you enjoy this tale of my silly stubbornness and I hope you can learn from my mistakes…

There is a lake below Aoraki/Mount Cook that is fed from a glacier, Hooker lake it’s called. Parts of the glacier crack off every now and then creating icebergs that float gently around the lake’s surface. The average temperature of the water is below 2℃/35.6℉ and during winter the entire lake surface often freezes over. The walk to Hooker lake is one of the most jaw-drop stunners of a valley walk in all of N.Z. As you follow the easy track over swing bridges and wooden walkways Aoraki/Mount Cook (the tallest mountain in the land) looks down on you from the north. It’s an absolute bang for your buck kinda walk. So quite rightly people flock to see the mountain/glacier view. In the summertime it can be one of the busiest walks in the country.

Panorama of hooker lake with Mt Cook over to the right

I’ve swum in Hooker lake once before. Two years ago on a hot hot summer day. On that hot day two years ago the usual tourism hoards were gathered on the lake shore, so I was a good polite citizen and wore a swimsuit. Ever since that swim, Hooker lake has been at the top of my skinny dip bucket list. It’s the one that got away, the one I never thought would be attainable because there’s always so many people on the lake shore. 

But right now covid=no tourism=no crowds in N.Z. With this in mind, Jordan and I went for a mini road trip from Wanaka up to the Mackenzie region (one of my favourite parts of the South Island). The main point of our trip was to camp for a few days and just chill, but in the back of my mind was the sneaky thought that this might be my chance for a skinny dip in Hooker lake.

Empty pathways

After a couple of days camping at Lake Ohau we headed for Mount Cook national park. We took our time on the drive, stopping off at various viewpoints along lake Pukaki. Taking things easy like proper tourists, enjoying the quiet roads, taking photos of Jordan jumping naked over Mount Cook, you know, as you do. Everything took longer than we anticipated and the day slipped away from us. That’s probably the hardest part about this time of year, the days are so bloody short and the darkness sneaks up on you while your back is turned. By the time we arrived at the Hooker valley track the sun was very low, just starting to disappear behind the mountains. We sat in the van a while debating whether it was wise to start the walk now with diminishing daylight, or save it for the next day. A quick check of the weather forecast made the decision for us. Rain forecast for the next morning meant we were walking right then; walking fast, taking head torches and scraping any dreams I had of a dip. With heavy hearts we had to admit it would just be plain stupid to dip at that time of day, in winter. It was around 5℃ outside the van, with a bitter wind and the temperature quickly plummeting along with the setting sun. The walk to the lake is about an hour each way. An hour walk back with wet hair, frozen toes and only a cold van to return to? Definitely not a good idea! Jordan and I might be childlike and silly sometimes, but we’re not dumb.

Aoraki leap

We wrap up warm for our scenic walk but leave our towels and water shoes in the van, skinny dip mission aborted. 

New Zealand sometimes seems like such a small country, it can be hard to go anywhere without bumping into someone you know. On our walk along Hooker valley we bump into 3 different people I know, all returning from the lake already. When we bump into my friend Danielle, her first question is 

“Are you going for a skinny dip?” 

I assure her it is far too late and cold in the day for that, we don’t want to make ourselves ill. Then her friend, who I’ve never met before, pipes up with:

“Ah that would make such good photos, oh I hope you do!” 

Damn it Danielle’s friend! It doesn’t take much to egg me on and this stranger’s enthusiasm relights the fire within me for an iceberg skinny dip. Without too much more chat we say our goodbyes and hurry on our walk before the daylight desserts us. After a few minutes of silent walking and contemplating I have to find out if Jordan is thinking what I’m thinking. 

“You know, when we get there, we might just have to get in.” I state with my usual pushyness.

It turns out she’s not thinking what I’m thinking. We’re unprepared, no towels, no hot tea. We’re British for christ’s sake, we can’t get that cold without tea! Realising I’m being dumb, I squash the idea of dipping to the back of my mind, but I don’t let it completely disappear. 

Wrapped up warm

When we get our first view of the frigid iceberg covered lake I know I’m going in! The clouds are just starting to turn golden above the mountains and Mount Cook’s tip is glowing in the evening sunlight. Wind is rushing straight off the mountain creating waves on the lake’s surface. And those cheeky icebergs are calling my name, daring me to join them. It’s as if the universe has planned it, the only two people in sight are just heading up the path leaving the lake shore. In a moment this epic scene is going to be all ours with not another soul in sight. How can I resist? 

All my rationality goes out the window. All my earlier thoughts of how dumb it would be to get naked and get in are washed away by the sound of the lapping waves. 

Fuck it, I think. Now I’m here it seems like the only logical thing to do. I haven’t walked for an hour in the cold just to look at this freezing lake. I want to be in it, I want to embrace the cold, I want to touch an iceberg and know that I had the fullest experience here at Hooker lake that I could possibly have. With a slight shake of my head at my own stubbornness, I tell Jordan I’m going in, I just have to. The little legend that she is, she says she’s coming in too! This makes my day!

All that we’ve learnt over the last month with our cold dipping is useless to us, because we didn’t think we were going to go in. So we don’t have our water shoes to save our feet from the sharp rocks, we don’t have extra layers to put on after, we didn’t even bring our towels to dry off properly. And my thermometer was left behind in the van so I’m sorry to say I can’t tell you the exact temperature of the water that day. It’s a chaotic skinny dip. The wind and the depleting sunlight panics us, making the whole thing feel like it has to be rushed. We forget about our calm breathing that usually focuses us when entering the cold water. Instead we stumble in, clinging onto each other desperately, trying not to slip and fall on the slippery rocks. We hobble our way to the nearest icebergs, where the water is only about knee deep. This is enough for us in our panicked state. Here we dunk down to submerge our bodies amongst the bergs, making sure we really freeze our butts off. Each of us gives an iceberg a bit of a prod to see what they’re like. It’s not often one gets to touch an iceberg, it feels pretty special, pretty strange. What a novel situation to be in. Sitting naked in a lake, surrounded by icebergs, with a view of the tallest mountain in the country. 

Hobbling to the icebergs

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get in this lake without the usual crowds about. It’s the coldest water I’ve ever dunked in, and quite possibly ever will. It was exhilarating, exciting and something I’ll remember forever. But if we had been prepared we could have relaxed and enjoyed the experience a little more. Instead we let the cold panic us (we still felt the rejuvenating rush from the cold and the exhilaration of being naked in nature) but it could have been more relaxing if we’d planned better.

As I said, this is not a tale of some great achievement, or any great feat of human intelligence. If anything it’s a story of two disorganised, excitable women looking for cheap thrills, but I have re-learnt a lesson that I forgot. When I was a kid I was taught this by the girl guides and as an adult I have been reminded of it many times, yet sometimes I still forget it: Always be prepared! 

You never know what’s gonna happen next, situations can change at any minute. And God damn it Kate, always bring a towel!!

Always bring your towel, just in case!

30 days of winter dips.

If you hadn’t already realised….I’m a skinny dipper. 

Which means I like sun and warmth. I do love mountains, skiing, hiking etc but really the main thing in my life lately is skinny dipping. I search for sun and warm weather, the kind of weather where any more clothing than shorts and t-shirt is too much, and no clothing at all is the best. You won’t meet many naturists or skinny dip enthusiasts who look for cold water. It’s really not that comfortable to be naked in winter, when all the sane people are wrapped up in hats, scarves and puffy jackets. Preferably, I like to be able to spend a prolonged period of time naked, not just a quick in/out of the water and then run home to the hot shower. So warm temperatures are what I want. If you haven’t tried it before then you wouldn’t believe how good it feels to emerge naked from a crystalline river on a hot day and let the warm sun dry your skin. Mmmhmm that’s the kind of skinny dipping I would usually go for! 

Mmm summer memories

But, as we all know by now, we’re living in “unprecedented” times. I was not planning on being in New Zealand for winter. I was going to skedaddle at the end of summer and head to the northern hemisphere for another summer (lucky me, I know). Right before I was due to fly, the world turned upside down. Everything ground to a halt and all plans were put on hold. Just like everyone else, I hunkered down and tried to survive lockdown. 

A hot drink & a hot water bottle post plunge

Did anyone else have the sensation that time was put on pause while we were in lockdown? That’s certainly how I felt: my life stood still, the world stood still, therefore I imagined time standing still. But oh no no! Not so lucky! Once lockdown was over and freedom was attainable again, I had to accept that Mother Nature had continued with her usual progression. Winter had well and truly set in here in N.Z. Ever the optimist, I refused to believe it was too cold for my usual way of life. Which consists of road tripping, wild swimming and copious amounts of nudity. So into my van I piled, with a newly acquired hot water bottle, a wool blanket and a big thick bathrobe. That’s all I’d need to survive winter van life, right?

It didn’t take long for me to realise things had changed. The days were getting shorter, the weather was getting grimmer and the beautiful blue waters of New Zealand ever colder. My old summer sunny ways were not achievable anymore. But like I said I’m an optimist, and I’m adaptable. I refused to give up on my naked, travelling ways. A little adaptation was required. Rather than seeking out the sunshine and best weather areas I would embrace the cold, seeking out the coldest waters and challenging myself. Inspired by Wim Hof, (a Dutch dude known as “The Iceman” who is famous for withstanding freezing temperatures) I decided to push myself. 

Celebrating the winter solstice-Air: 3℃/37℉ Water: 9.6℃/49℉

As some sort of crazy defiance or denial of winter I vowed to swim everyday in June. In the summer I swam everyday without even trying, but in June it took a heartfelt promise to myself to make me do it. I was true to my word, and dip everyday I did. Swimming became my only consistent. I’ve been living in my van, so never sure where I’ll be one day to the next, no routine and no responsibilities. No idea when I will leave New Zealand or continue with my life plans. With everything else in my life unknown and uncertain, it felt good to have one thing I could be sure of everyday. Everyday I would get in the water, and everyday I would freeze my butt off, of this I could be sure. 

Van life winter dipping 101: get the coffee on before you get in the cold water 😉

It might sound a little crazy, but this is what has kept me sane through the past month. Getting in the water, immersing myself in nature this way, has become my grounding. Without my enforced daily dip I could have gone whole days without embracing the natural world around me. It would have been easy to let the lack of sunshine and warmth get me down, but thanks to my June pact with myself I knew that at some point during the day I would get involved with the great outdoors. No matter how cold or rainy the day was I would have a moment of liberation, calm, and connection to nature. Each time I dip I come out of the water feeling enlivened, so refreshed; not just on my skin but in my mind. When I dunk my head under the icy water I become instantly present, a kind of clarity washes over me. Times when I’ve felt stressed or anxious I’ve taken myself off for a solo skinny dip. Immersing into the cold water has cleared my head and helped me to put things into perspective. The tingle of the cold feels like it wakes up every cell in my body, it gives me such a boost of energy. I come out feeling more alive than ever, honestly it makes me feel invincible. It makes me feel as if I could take on anything, physical or emotional, that the world could throw at me. It makes me feel strong in myself. Like the best version of myself: clear headed, present and alert. There’s been some amazing scientific studies on cold water immersion and the health benefits it has. Some of which I’ve read, and if you’re interested you can read about it too. But I’m not writing this to teach you about science, I’m writing this to tell you about my personal experience, which is that it feels bloody fantastic! In the hope that I might inspire you to try a polar plunge.

Feeling invincible!

My dips have, for sure, been the highlights of my month, and the highlight of my winter so far. They’ve been the most enjoyable, most memorable moments of the last 30 days. Some moments I’ll never forget, and some people I never would have met if it wasn’t for dipping. I’ve bonded with people over the joy of polar plunging, and the joy of nudity.

Memories that I’ll never forget

My cousin, Jordan, has been with me for most of my dips. We’ve been travelling together since pre lockdown. Together we’ve plunged in sooo many different rivers and lakes around the South Island. We egg each other on and keep each other strong. When one of us is shivering with cold, the other makes the hot tea. Surprisingly there hasn’t been too much shivering. Of course, there has been some, but not as much as we expected! Really we have surprised ourselves with our capabilities, we’ve withstood temperatures that we really didn’t think we could stand. It’s quite amazing what the human body is capable of when you push yourself a little further. These 30 days of winter dips have given me a new strength. I know that next time I think I can’t do something, I will remember this and that I achieved something that I didn’t think I could do. If you think you couldn’t do it, why don’t you see what you’re capable of?!

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re capable of until you push yourself

Mine and Jordan’s record low temperature for skinny dipping was below 2℃/35.6℉, in a glacier fed lake with icebergs floating in it! I wanted to tell you guys about it in this entry but it seems I’ve too much to say on this subject and this one post would end up being far too long. So expect the next post very very soon with the tale of our iceberg skinny dip. 

If you’re interested check out what Wim Hof is all about and he can teach you a little about the science behind it all:

Is it playtime?

As a child everyday is playtime. Life is about fun and games. It is lived in the moment with no regard for what will come later or what was done yesterday. Kids can play the same game for days in a row and still enjoy it just as much as they did the day before. They don’t question the purpose or worth in their actions, they simply do things because they enjoy them, or don’t do things because they don’t enjoy them. Life is simple for kids. 

As we get older life gets complicated. We don’t have Mummy and Daddy to provide for us anymore; we have to stand on our own two feet. Life throws shit at us that we have to struggle through. Food has to be bought, bills have to be paid, hearts get broken, questions arise. Life gets complicated. And we start taking everything so fucking seriously.

Let’s not take ourselves too seriously yeah?

What’s this got to do with nudity you might be wondering? Well, nudity creates playfulness. Nudity creates a sense of not giving a shit. It brings out the child in people. It’s hard not to end up having a laugh when you strip off with a bunch of mates and jump in a pool or the ocean. OK, so none of us can get together with a bunch of mates and go for a dip right now. But nudity at home can bring a sense of fun to the everyday. Try having a naked dance in your kitchen, or practicing naked handstands in the garden. I guarantee it will make you or someone you live with laugh! It’s hard not to have fun when you do things naked! Maybe not everything…. maybe not welding or Arctic exploring. But for household chores it’ll add just a little more playfulness. And playfulness is just what we need right now isn’t it?!?

A spot of naked fishing anyone?

I spent Jan, Feb and March playing out in nature. I am so grateful to say that my work feels like play. Being naked in nature makes me happier than anything, it makes me feel playful and carefree like a child. Scott and I have been zooming about the south island. Running from beauty spot to beauty spot to skinny dip in the greatest waters this great country has to offer. Yes, it is all research for the book, but we are only making this book because we love doing it so much. Our work is our playtime.


I’ve always been a playful person. But it’s not until a few months ago when a friend of mine brought up the subject of adult play that I really started to appreciate how important playtime is for me. My free-spirited friend, Gem, and I had just spent an hour or two naked on a secluded beach of Lake Mavora. Attempting gymnastics we knew we couldn’t do, making up our own acro yoga poses because we couldn’t remember the correct positions and leaping as high as we could for funny photos. During this time spent on the beach playing we were innocent like children. There was nothing lewd about our nudity, we were simply natural and free.

You know when you hear or read something that just clicks with you? You realise you have felt it for a long time but never consciously acknowledged it before. It’s something that has just come to you intrinsically without you having to bring the concept into your consciousness. Sometimes it takes someone else to bring up the subject for you to realise how strongly you feel about it. This was what happened for me with the subject of playtime. I have always believed in it, always practiced it, yet never actually vocalised the idea to myself. When Gem brought it up and we discussed it, I realised just how much I believe in it and how essential it is for me. I know that play is vital for me in my life and I believe a bit of play is vital for all human happiness.

Failed cartwheel attempts at Mavora lakes

Playtime is a time that we can let go of our cares and worries and just act like children. We can forget that we need to earn money or buy groceries, we can ignore any deadlines or responsibilities and just have fun. When I frolic from rock to rock down a river bed or leap off a high rock into a pool I am not thinking about why or for what purpose, I am just enjoying the moment. Even though I’m often doing it for a purpose, (for the book), I am transported directly into the present moment and am just living. Much that I have read and listened to in the past few years has taught me the value of mindfulness, of being present: of enjoying the moment. There’s many tools to experience this; I use a variety. But playtime is probably my favourite. Yes I love to go for my morning run, it clears my head and gets me feeling great, but it doesn’t beat playing silly buggers with people I love. Play fighting, dancing stupidly, doing cartwheels on the grass. Anything and everything just to have a giggle. Because what’s life without a giggle?

At my happiest when I’m naked in nature

Sometimes things get on top of us and life can get so hard, in these times we get serious and we forget about play.

But here’s the thing….for many of us right now life has been put on pause. The world as we know it has pressed the pause button. We are in this strange limbo time. We are spending more time at home than ever before. So how about we take a leaf outta the kids book and start playing again? I don’t think I have ever known a better time to just enjoy the moment. Our future is completely unknown (of course the future is always unknown) but now we can’t even make plans, book trips, or look forward to things coming up. The future is even more unknown and out of our hands than it ever has been before. In my (completely unprofessional) opinion, the best way to deal with this scary fact is to embrace the present moment. Why don’t we look to children, who live in the now with no effort at all, and learn some lessons from the simpler little beings around us? They know how to play for the pure pleasure of playing. 

Time to pause

We’ve been given a free pass by the planet to take some time to play. We can mess around, giggle, joke and laugh without any care for what chores need to be done or whether we’re going to be late for work. Our schedules are freer so we can give more time to playtime. We can play purely for the joy of the play in that moment. Not because we are trying to keep fit, trying to improve our skills or finish a project, we can play purely to see ourselves and others laugh and smile.

Dancing round the fire

Some people are still working, some are working even harder than usual to keep everybody safe and their lives must be harder than ever right now. Don’t think I am not aware that plenty of people have got bigger worries and stresses than ever before right now. People’s lives have been turned upside down and loved ones are being lost. But I feel that means, more than ever, to make some time to do things purely for the laugh. When life gets serious let’s not forget to play yeah? Let’s try to make the god damn most of THIS moment as we possibly can, because it’s the only one we’ve got 😉

I had a dream… and it came true.

What would you say is the definition of success? 

Stereotypically, when we think of successful people we think of wealthy people. Yet everyone has their own version of success and even the smallest achievements are still successes. I don’t believe success is how much money you have in the bank, or how many people recognise your achievements. I used to think a happy life equals a successful life, but then I realised happiness comes and goes, it can last for months or just flitter through you for a brief moment. So I’ve been thinking perhaps success is turning your dreams into reality. The dictionary definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Whatever aim we have for our day, whether it’s big or small, if we achieve it then that is a success, therefor we can all be successful everyday. It just comes down to whether we put our plans into action.

Big rock jump pushing boundaries
Encouraging myself, and others, to step out of our comfort zones

At the beginning of this summer I had a dream of getting multiple people naked in nature together. I had a fantasy (in the most innocent, non-sexual way) of having a group of around a dozen people all get naked and leap in the water together. A fantasy of creating my own tribe of like-minded people. Of building a community of friends who share the same love of nature and freedom as me. I dreamed of being able to help others push their boundaries and experience some liberation. I felt silly and naive to dream big. I felt arrogant to think I had some capability to help others. Honestly, I still feel egotistical to think that anyone cares or has a desire to listen to what I have to say. BUT, (and it is a big fat but) my experiences over the last three months have shown me that I can help people!

Naked friends
Just a few of the wonderful people who have joined me over the summer

My dream became a reality: I achieved what I set out to do. Over the course of the last three months I have encouraged around 30 different people to get involved in our naked circus. For the creation of this guidebook we have travelled the country far and wide, enticing friends, family and strangers to join in our naked adventures. Just like many others, I’ve never had a lot of believe in my own capabilities and struggle with self-doubt. So I started the summer with a dream, but I was terrified to put that dream into action. Turns out the more I pushed myself, the more my confidence grew. From the very first stranger that I persuaded to join me for a skinny dip, my confidence in my dream began to build. I learnt very quickly that the only way to turn a dream into reality is through action. So I did what I’m always telling others to do; I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I approached strangers and I propositioned friends who I knew might think I was crazy. I put my story out to the world and opened myself up for rejection and ridicule. From taking risks, miracles can happen. What felt like a crazy girl’s fantasy idea, actually became reality.

Nude fun
“Show me your best impression of a boulder”-taking silly photos with strangers who have become friends

On the fifth of Feb we had a group of ten of us running, jumping, frolicking, swimming together, naked as the day we were born. It was a mixed group consisting of a couple, a few friends, Scott and I, and our newly acquired travel buddy Gemma. Some of the group I’d met before, and some were new acquaintances. The couple had never met any of us before and never been naked in a group this large before. Hats off to them for joining in, what bravery! The feedback I had from them after this experience was so positive it made me cry with happiness! After a whole summer of getting others involved, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback. I truly believe that getting naked in nature can be a life changing experience, and the feedback I’m getting seems to coincide with my beliefs. 

Naked hat throw
Hats off to the brave people who joined us

To a lot of people, the idea of getting naked out in the wilderness with a bunch of strangers would be terrifying. However, when brave people do come and join us they discover a new kind of fun and playfulness. What we do is all about playing with nature. We don’t just get naked in any old place. We find some of the most wonderful, fun and hidden spots to go and enjoy Mother Nature. These are places were virtually no-one else goes. So we can release our inhibitions or fears of outside judgment and just play carefree as children. It’s been such a joy to introduce so many other people to this carefree way of enjoying the natural world. My heart glows to see other people enjoy what I enjoy so much. 

Naked doughnut
Childlike fun

My dream, that may seem small and humble, or may seem huge and ridiculous (depending on your own personal experience and viewpoint) felt like a massive deal to me three months ago. Now that it has become reality I feel stronger and more confident in myself. Now that my first dream has become reality, I can move onto my next dream. The next one being the physical creation of this one-of-a-kind book.

Koropuku falls waterfall skinny dip
Such joy from sharing these places with these people

We’ve had our summer of fun, frolicking hither and thither, meeting new people and going on great naked adventures. Now we have enough content to fill multiple books! Time to knuckle down and do the office work. This dream is just as scary for me, feels just as fantastical and unattainable. But if I have learnt anything in the last three months, I have learnt that dreams CAN become reality.

Newd Zealand naked jump
Time to knuckle down and write this book

Free range humans.

For me, being naked is soooo much about freedom. The freedom to be myself without feeling I need to live up to any expectations. The liberation of being safe and comfortable to bear all without receiving any negativity. The freedom to off load any of my worries and stresses and just enjoy the moment. With this book I hope to guide people to the places where they can feel this freedom. The places where there’s no-one else around so that they can off load their worries and reservations and be fully themselves. When there is no-one else to judge, criticise or take advantage we can be set free by our nudity. In a world where naked bodies are so often sexualised, it is so liberating to take the power back and enjoy your own body for what it is in a purely natural, non-sexual way.

Cartwheel practice

These places we are finding have no rules and no pressures, because there’s no-one else there. They are places where people can be naked and completely carefree, where people can be confident about themselves and their bodies even if they aren’t in their everyday life. Because there is no-one else there to see them. In these places I find myself returning to a childlike sense of joy. I run around, skipping, jumping and whooping like an excited 5-year-old. When you get to a wonderfully secluded and beautiful place it is already exhilarating, but to throw off your clothes gives a whole new sense of excitement. Knowing you are in a place that is so obscure that no-one is going to stumble upon you gives you the green light to be naked and run around like a nutter. It gives you the opportunity to do things you’ve never done before. I am finally learning to do cartwheels, which is something I never did as a kid and have been too embarrassed to try to learn as an adult. In these safe spaces we are discovering, I can finally admit to my friends the things I’ve been too embarrassed to admit before. Such as being a 31-year-old who never learnt to do a cartwheel. So now I practise my cartwheels (naked) whenever we find a soft sand beach or a grassy paddock. And I’m getting better at them! These places give such an air of “who gives a shit?” Who cares if your bits are flopping around if no-one else is ever gonna know? You can just enjoy the feeling of the wind between your legs and the sun on your skin without ever telling anyone if you don’t want to.

Playing in the mud like a couple of kids

So often in life we create cages for ourselves, in our houses, jobs, relationships, routines and in our minds. We feel the pressure from society to adhere to the “norm”. To look and act a certain way, to aspire to certain things. To abide by the rules and stick to the safe options. We let other people’s opinions decide our self-worth. The idea of physical beauty creates a tight cage in our minds. So many of us spend so much time worrying about our appearance, worrying about what others think of it and how we match up to the people around us. When we are naked in nature in these secluded spots, we can be set free from these cages. Even if it’s just for a brief time, we can be free from these pressures. But every second of carefree enjoyment helps us to feel more confident and comfortable in ourselves. And I can tell you from my personal experience, the more time spent naked in these places = the more confident I become in my body. The more time I spend feeling confident no-one will see me = the less of a shit I give if someone does see me.

The joy I get from these secluded paradises

I feel that freedom is being able to go where you want, when you want, and then not give a shit what people think of you when you get there. But I think it is human nature to worry about what the people around us think of us. Spending time in the buff in these places is helping me too stop worrying too much. Sometimes I do still worry that people will think I look stupid or ugly, or think that showing the world my naked body is vile and indecent. But I am trying to stick to what I believe and not let anyone’s negativity effect my decisions. I am trying to trust my own judgement rather than relying on other people’s judgement to tell me what is good for me. Throughout our lives we hold ourselves back so often because of preoccupations with other people’s opinions. What are the things you would have done in the past if you hadn’t been worried that people would think you were daft?

Since I started this trip, I feel that I have been blessed, I get to experience so much freedom! At 30 years old, I was pretty late to get my driving licence. But I finally got around to it late last year. So, since being back in New Zealand I have experienced the freedom of having my own car for the first time in my life. Having a licence and my own car has given my free spirit room to fly. When I’m in that car all on my own, I’m in my own little world. A world where I am the boss, the queen, the president and the hero, I am the lead role and I am in charge! I can go where I want, when I want, listen to whatever music I want as loud as I like and sing along at the top of my voice without anyone laughing at my dodgy singing. When I am on the open road, living by no routine, with no-one’s else’s expectations or assumptions to live up to and everything I need to survive in the car with me, then I feel so free that I’m almost floating. I feel as though I’m a bird soaring in the wind, the warm air below my wings keeping me flying high. I know that I’m very lucky to be living this way and I don’t write this to gloat about it. I’m writing about it here so that I can share this freedom with you guys. The book I am creating is my way to share this fantastic freedom with others. Some people would call me a free spirit, but I believe that everyone has a free spirit, it is just a case of unshackling it and letting it fly. I hope that my book will guide people to the spaces where they can let their spirits fly.

Naked and proud

This nomad life gives me so much space to be myself and I’m loving this lifestyle. It’s not always perfect but when it’s good it’s sooo damn good. I don’t have a house that I need to keep clean, I don’t have a partner that I have to make compromises for, I don’t have a schedule to follow or a uniform to wear, in fact I hardly wear clothes at all, and most of all I don’t feel the need (that I have felt for so many years) to gain other people’s approval on my appearance. I am cage free, I’m a free-range Naked Kate.  

Midnight bath.

It is astonishing me how easy it seems to be to get random strangers to get their kit off. Within minutes of meeting people, we are naked together! This is fantastic! I’m not talking about drunken, desperate exchanges in a club that lead to forgettable sex, hangovers and regrets. I’m talking about broad daylight, sober, non-sexual nudity that leads to joy, smiles, and great stories. Over the years I’ve had my fair share of drunken nights, soar heads and regrets. I’m no angel and I’m not looking down on anyone else that isn’t. But this is a very different kind of nudity and experience. This new path I’m on (this campaign I seem to have started to get everyone around me naked in nature) has brought with it a whole new perspective for me. The more people who join me and the more people I talk to about it, the more I see how this can really be life changing.

To some of you out there that may sound ludicrous. How can going for a skinny dip change your life?

Honest to god: it has changed mine!!

For anyone who has suffered with body issues, low self-esteem or a lack of confidence, spending time naked can be such a boost. And for those who don’t suffer with these things it can just be such liberation from everyday stresses and pressures. What better way to escape the craziness of this modern world: the Trumps and brexits, the political madness and the consumerist chaos, than to disappear for a little while, strip off your clothes and reconnect with nature and yourself. Even if it’s just for half an hour, it is an escape from whatever craziness you have in your life. Whatever your own personal problems might be. Because we all have them, some big, some small, we all have problems sometimes. So, we all need a respite sometimes. To free yourself of your clothes means total escape from it all.

A moment of respite

I know that there is plenty of people who agree with me already and I’m so glad to have connected with some of them through what I am doing. I think there is plenty more people who know this deep, deep down. Who can benefit from it but haven’t embraced it yet. So far, I’m finding that people are loving to skinny dip with me. But not only that. Some of them are actually thanking me for the experience! They don’t seem to realise that I don’t do anything more than give them the idea. They are doing all the work themselves. It’s not like I take their clothes off and push them in the water, I am just the one to suggest it. It seems some people are totally down for it and love it, but the idea just didn’t occur to them. Well I sure am grateful to have met them, suggested it and shared the joy with them.

Two French travellers I met recently taught me a phrase: “bain de minuit” which translates to midnight bath. It is the tradition of taking a naked swim outdoors at night. Swimming naked at night under the stars and the moon is a beautiful thing. It’s a great way to be naked without the fear of people seeing that you are naked. But I have coined my own term: Midday bath. I also think that a midday bath is a beautiful thing. A naked swim under the sun? Get yourself some of that vital vitamin D while enjoying a soul revitalising nude dip? Even better! This is when the true liberation is felt. This is when the life changing shit happens. This is when we can say screw you to our inhibitions and worries. When we have to throw away our self-consciousness, stop thinking about what others think and just go for it.

A total lack of inhibitions

Why is it that are we so scared of others seeing our naked bodies? Are we scared of being laughed at or scared of it turning into something sexual? Is it not possible to be naked and there to be no sexual connotations? Is it not possible to see our bodies as something other than a sexual object? Are we not capable of swimming, climbing, running, jumping, dancing and a plethora of other incredible things? Our bodies do some much more than just fucking so why does a naked body have to be associated with only that?

I don’t believe we should have to hide away in the dark when we want to skinny dip. I am not trying to encourage you to go to your local pool and jump in without your swimsuit on. I’m not a crazy lady! But, to maybe find a nice outdoor spot where there’s not people around, and enjoy the freedom of being in your natural state in nature. Why should it have to be in the dark and why for the love of god can we not let our friends or family see us in the buff? We trust our close friends and family with our secrets, and yet we cannot trust them to see our true natural form. If we really love each other, surely we don’t care what each other looks like?

True love of real friends

I’m so so grateful for the people I’ve met so far along the way on this crazy journey. The experiences I’ve had with them are motivating me to keep doing what I’m doing. They have shown me that there is truth in what I am saying and there are people that share my believes. I’m so excited for the people I’m yet to meet, the ones who can teach me more about this subject and the ones who I can introduce to a bit of naked liberation.

Looks like I’m not the only one.

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.

Soooo blue.

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!

Just before I took my kit off.

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.

French recruits that I met by the river.

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?

First time skinny dipper and my first nude model, what a legend!!

F**k you I won’t do what you tell me!

This blog is a place for nudity. Nude bodies AND nude thoughts. So that means no covering up or masking the not-so-positive thoughts. These days I am more than comfortable for anyone and everyone to see me naked (which is a good job as there’s now naked photos of me all over the internet). But this hasn’t always been the case.

I want to talk about the times when I wasn’t comfortable getting naked, the times when I wasn’t even comfortable with clothes on, when I felt ugly and uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve spent a large part of my life feeling like this and I want to talk about it because I know I’m not a rarity. I know that almost everyone feels like this at some point in their lives. And some people go through their whole lives feeling uncomfortable in their own bodies, and that bloody sucks! But in nature I have found an escape from it so I want to share my thoughts with you.

Each one of us has our different issues, our certain bits that we prod and poke disapprovingly in the mirror or that we fixate on when we see a photo of ourselves. Some of us feel too fat and look at our friends and wish to have bodies like them. Meanwhile our friends are feeling too skinny and wishing they had more curves. Some women have no boobs and some men have man boobs. We all have our individual complaints. It is impossible to tell from the outside what’s going on in someone’s head and what issues are plaguing them. My own list of complaints has always been a long one: flabby belly, small boobs, hairy in many places that women “shouldn’t” be hairy, wonky teeth, flat bum, big birthmark, wobbly thighs etc etc. Depending on my mood on the day it could be longer or shorter, but basically, I was always putting myself down. Always comparing myself to others, seeing the good in them and the bad in me.

Friends should be celebrated, not competed with.

I have felt so much pressure over my lifetime to conform and perform. To live up to society’s standards of appearance. So many magazines, TV shows, movies and advertisements telling me I am only beautiful if I “use this make-up” or “buy this dress” to “look like this”. And shock horror!!… None of it made me look like that! So, for years I didn’t feel like enough. Society told me I wasn’t enough. It effected my relationships; I was jealous of pretty girls my boyfriends were friends with. I was untrusting because I didn’t believe anyone could really love me as I was, I was jealous of friends who were better looking than me and at times the lack of confidence held me back. Any of this sound familiar to you?

It can really screw people up, all this comparison we do. It causes eating disorders, relationship breakups, depression and even suicide. All because we are bombarded with a picture of what beautiful is and made to believe we must aspire to be that. As a woman I only know the pressures that women feel and I do believe it is an issue that faces women more than men. I feel like there is a much heavier weight put on us to be “beautiful”. But guys I am sure that plenty of you feel the pressure too and I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the matter.

Having so much fun that I don’t care what I look like.

My escape from this world of comparison came in the form of venturing out into nature where there is no-one to compare myself to. Mother nature doesn’t give a monkey’s what I look like when I’m out there getting naked in the woods. In spending time out there, I have had the time to become comfortable with my body and learnt to love it for being strong and capable. While out there I felt a connection to nature that taught me that I am part of this wonky, wobbly world and it is okay to be wonky and wobbly here and there. I am made up of the same stuff as the trees, the bugs, the birds and the flowers and we are all important parts of this planet.

Me and my friends the trees.

This book I am writing and my social media pages are my way of sticking the middle finger up to the shallow, body shaming culture of this modern world. The magazines that publish photos of celebrities looking their worst, the tv shows about which clothes you should wear, the makeup companies encouraging you to paint your face every day and the endless Instagram influencers who only publish photos of themselves looking perfectly preened. To all of you I say “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” I say “This is how I was made and I’m not ashamed of it! Kate Uwins looks like this and she’s not going to try to look like anyone else!”

And to those of you who resonate with any of what I am saying, I say “Come join me in this world of liberation. The water is warm, take off your clothes and jump in.”

Come on and jump in!