Moonbathing on the Harbour Bridge!

Moonbathing on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, 1962. Credit – Warehi Britton.

I found this great picture on a Facebook page called North Shore, NZ History and Memories. It reminded me of all the times I have stopped at the top of the harbour bridge in the line of duty, and of the times when we used to walk up to the top of the arch in the middle of the night or climb about under the bridge, through the clip-on sections etc. I suspect it might be slightly more dangerous nowadays!

The photo came with the following explanation of how the scene came about. Enjoy.


We had upset Sir John Allum and the other inept clowns on the Harbour Bridge Authority, with the photo of the local Milford lads playing bridge(cards), on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. A much more ambitious plan was hatched. We decided to prove to the public, how hopelessly inadequate they were. We thought that a nice beach type scene would tick the boxes. Moonbathing would be the theme. It would be important to set it up quickly, so we practised over several days in Dodson Ave in Milford.

We refined it to the point where we could, in 29 seconds, get out of the car with the props, set them up, take photographs and get back into the car. We had decided that the best car for the job, to transport about 9 of us, was Gregor Cadness’s black 1931 Hudson Straight 8, with three rows seats, having dicky seats in the middle. As I remember it was 1962.

Early one morning, approaching 2:00 am, we headed to the bridge, went through the toll gates from the North Shore and headed up on to the top of the bridge. The odd car came and went, so we decided to carry on to the city and wait a while until the traffic was almost absent.

At about 3:00 pm we returned from the city side and did a few U turns on top of the bridge, scoping out the traffic flow. We had Tom Bowie with us and it was his task to keep an eye out for the Bridge control vehicle, while I took the photographs.

When the time was right we all jumped out of the Hudson, set things up and I shot a few photos. Very soon Tom called out to say that a patrol vehicle had just come into sight, a few hundred metres away. So it was back into the car and heading towards the city.

We were a little surprised when the patrol officer told us to exit at Shelley Beach Rd and pull over. He then told us to follow him back to the Bridge Authority offices, which we did. Our names were taken and we were told to report back at midday the following day, which we did. They wanted to know if we had anything to do with the card playing photo which had appeared on the front page of the North Shore Times, a few weeks earlier.

Of course, we said that we had no idea what they were talking about. They were looking around for a copy of the North Shore Times, but could not find it. The Manager of the Harbour Bridge Authority said that they had noticed the Hudson going through the toll gates at about 2:00 am and wanted to know how it was that an hour later we were at the top of the Bridge still heading in the direction of the city. We said that we were in awe of the view from the top of the bridge and the full moon made it spectacular. So much so that I could not resist taking photos.

Eventually they released us with a warning. About two weeks later we offered a photo to the NZ Truth, which ran it. We figured that a paper with national coverage would cause a much bigger stir than the North Shore Times.

Warehi Britton.

North Shore, NZ History and Memories