On Friday 22nd April 2022 some members of Hauraki Naturally group met up in Thames, and hiked the Kaueranga Valley Pinacles walk naked.
We were a little surprised that in spite of the wet day, forecast with heavy rain and thunderstorms, the trail car park was quite full. No doubt we’d be encountering other people on the track.
The advise from the walk organiser was, “act friendly.” “Wave and say hello and don’t attempt to cover up as that’s just pointless and stupid.” Fairly sound advise from someone who’s accustomed to doing these walks frequently and encountering others on the trail. A couple of people even recognised him from the previous day when he’d done a naked recon to check out the condition of the track.
It was a little chilly and wet as we set off in light drizzle. Some had stripped bare in the car park. Others had donned light raincoats sans pants. It didn’t take that long to realise that the raincoats were somewhat pointless. The air temperature was quite comfortable, and after a few short moments of walking, most were warm enough to go completely bare.
We met quite a number of other people on the track. A few families with children of varying ages. Mothers on their own with children, and women walking on their own or in groups of two or three. Of course we also encountered a couple of male hikers on their own or in groups of two or three.
The vast majority of people we met were happy and friendly. We chatted with a number of them. Some people simply ignored us. There was really only one guy on the trail coming down who remarked, “how many more of you guys are there on the trail?” “Just a couple more,” we replied. “Good!” He huffed. Maybe not entirely impressed with our lack of attire. He was very much the exception.
As we hauled our way up the steep inclines I was glad not to be wearing anything. Ordinarily on these hikes I’d be soaked to the skin anyway and have the discomfort of cold uncomfortable clothes sticking to me. Whether it’s warm and dry conditions or wet conditions like this day. Shirts become cold and wet with sweat. Pants in wet conditions just make you feel damp and uncomfortable in all the wrong places.
Nudity allows the body to not only regulate it’s temperature correctly so that you’re not too hot nor cold. It actually dries off incredibly quickly ensuring that you stay warm. This is definitely not the case with clothes, that will pull your body temperature down very rapidly when wet as soon as you stop.
For me the most interesting aspect of the walk was seeing first hand how an unsuspecting public deal with public nudity. As I’ve experienced quite a few times out on my own, at beaches, people either don’t react at all. If they do, it’s in a happy chatty fashion. Sometimes joking about the clear benefits of nudity. Especially when they’re standing there drenched head to toe in wet heavy clothes. Meanwhile we’re dry and comfortable, enjoying the damp conditions.
What I can’t resist reflecting on is the reaction of women. Firstly because most are cheerful and friendly. Sometimes singing out hello to us first. Often waving an additional greeting when we’re spotted somewhere else on the track as it doubles back on itself.
Were I to try and speculate why this might be, particularly in the case of younger women on their own. My guess would be that they might be relieved to encounter a group of males who are so non-threatening. This might sound completely counter-intuitive, but if you stop for a moment to think about it, what kind of insecure macho bloke is going to strip off with a bunch of other guys and walk naked in the bush?
I’m aware from conversations with a number of women that their single greatest concern is unwanted attention and harassment from men with self image issues, who feel the need to wolf whistle, leer or worse; act in a threatening or concerning way towards them.
Reflecting from this perspective, it must be a great relief to encounter blokes who obviously don’t have self image problems. Are out in the wild in the most vulnerable manner one could be, and are obviously unashamed to be so. I suspect from the perspective of a gender who spend a great deal of their time feeling vulnerable and at risk from the male population. This is no doubt an immense equaliser. Men who are for once, in a vulnerable position, putting themselves out there for critique and potential ridicule.
So it’s very clear that the way to act naked in public is to wave, say hi and act friendly. Chances are that people will react so positively they’re likely to stop and chat.