An Instagram model has been under fire after posting pictures of her swimming and posing in what people believe to be a sacred natural spring where swimming has been banned.
Australian-based Instagram model Cleo Codrington posted pictures of her swimming in untouched waters of the North Island in New Zealand on Instagram.
Soon enough, people began saying they recognized the location and claimed it was Te Waihou Blue Springs, a sacred spring where all swimming has been forbidden in an attempt to preserve local wildlife.
After being faced with a massive backlash, the model spoke out about the “soul-crushing” response and claimed she wasn’t swimming in Blue Springs. However, she failed to reveal the secret location of her photo shoot at the time.
In her emotional statement following the criticism, Ms. Codrington wrote:
“I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation, there’s a whole world of people out there entitled to their own opinions and beliefs (although maybe in a less abusive and more justified manner.)
“But when lies are published falsifying your character and everything you stand to believe – it can be slightly soul crushing. I am a genuine advocate for sustaining, preserving and enjoying what beautiful natural environments we have remaining.
“Adventure’s not based off geotags or ‘getting the shot’ and especially not at the expense of the environment.
“It’s not about promoting big tourist attractions or showcasing spots so they become overrun and abused, (Which unfortunately has happened to places like Blue Springs.)
“This IS NOT Blue Springs, but a completely unrelated river system and area in NZ, and yes, the locals and owners said we could swim!
“New Zealand is an amazing country that should be looked after and appreciated and I will continue to live my simplistic lifestyle and enjoyment of photography as it enriches my soul.
“There’s a lot of beauty out there in the world, you don’t have to stick to the tourist path to see the best of the best. And also, don’t believe everything you read in the news!”
Despite the Instagram model’s explanation, not everyone was convinced by her words.
“So sad to see you posting a photo of the Blue Springs, Putaruru. Not only are you swimming somewhere that is taonga (treasure) but you’re posting it on social media- encouraging others to do the same. Learn to respect the whenua of Aotearoa (family of New Zealand)!” one person wrote.
Hitting back at the critics, Ms. Codrington revealed the location of the photo shoot despite her initial wishes to keep it a secret.
“This was at the Tarawera Falls River NOT Blue Springs,” she shared with her followers.
“I didn’t want to reveal the location because I’m a big believer in preserving the hidden gems and the environment, not all places should be geotagged.
“The last thing the environment needs is another overpopulated hotspot.”
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