Another Good Run by craig levers


Slow shutter panning, so on trend right now. I posted this on Instagram during the week and lots of people assumed it was Piha Bar, it's not. 

It has been a big ole week of activity out west. Lots of good banks, off-shore winds and swell. The A team were on it; Damon Meade was up from Gizzy to get some footage. Meady is the videographer/producer who has created Kiwi classics like Under The Weather and The Beaten Track. Check out his YouTube channel HERE  


Meady on the tools    

To be perfectly honest Meady was driving force behind this week's shoots. He set a strong discipline of up every morning before dawn for fuelling and then down court-side as the shadows shrunk back from the playing field. Shoot, re-fuel, download footage, re charge batteries, shoot the next tide, recharge, then get some cut aways/ time lapses, literally from dawn to dusk. I was loving it! 


Elliot Paerata-Reid was Meady's main subject for this week's sessions


EPR, readying for session #9 


Just to show I can actually take a photo not blurry... once in a while anyway


Potential everywhere


EPR, the early bird and flying 


Fireman calendar model Jamie Piggins tucked in to more than a couple between shifts


James McAlpine hunted down the best peaks as per


Good reason for the earlies




Bevan Wiig flowing some rail and causing the appropriate energy transfer


Ok, one more quick gif of Elliot .... 


Yep. It was a good week to be out West, hope you got your fill.   

CrystalCynalder.jpg is where you can view and buy both books and prints like this one. The four Galleries have over 180 images available. This one, Crystal Cylinder, just got added last month. It's my screen saver at the moment, you should totes buy it for that blank living room wall :)    

The Retro King by craig levers


Issue 22 of Damaged Goods Zine has just hit the book stands. The lead feature, cover and outro are all retro pieces by me. 


I'll let you in on a little secret, the feature was actually written over a year ago. Jerry from DGZ asked me to write it and I jumped at the invitation. But then other features and events got in the way of the photo edit. Finally, during production for this issue, Skip and I spent a few days going through boxes and boxes of the archive to nail down the images to be used. I gave Skip full carte blanche and control, after all it is their magazine and their aesthetic. There are images I'm surprised by, but all in all I reckon it's a pretty good trip down memory lane. 


Issue 22 of DGZ isn't just about this slice of NZ Surfing history. There are great features and profiles on photographer Shaun Tunnicliffe, Ric Christie, Tobby Butler, Sam Baker, Tai Graham and Elin Tawharu as well as insane photo galleries of substantial NZ waves. Once again DGZ leads the way in curating a well thought out issue, with depth and variety. But don't take my word for it, check it out HERE  

Meanwhile, Back At The Beach... 


Was there an actual Bar?! Well, yes, yes there was! It still wasn't Piha Bar of all time, but last week saw some great sessions go down at South Piha. I don't like stating it, and I don't like proclaiming it, but with the country's only surf website permanently pointing it's most viewed live camera at the Bar there's no point in me trying to be defuse. Apparently there where 60 surfers in the water at dawn last Saturday- heavy. But this wasn't then. 


Local surfer Nigel Grayling squaring off the bottom


Nige with his Tomo


The Te Ahuahu Hog! Me good neighbour Mike Mulcahy smashing the end section 


Nice cast! And probably a bit of lead to the head for the fellas on the take off peak


And meanwhile up the beach from where I'd rather be...


Jesse Peters, organiser of the Mangawhai Bowl Jam, surf retailer and wedding photographer to the stars 


Dan Farrel putting his pink Aubertin well through its paces 


Same wave, back truck over the coping


The South Seas book, revised with over 80% new photographic content from NZ best surf photographers and some of NZ's best surf, still available nationwide in all good surf stores or of course direct HERE 

Autumns Quick Windows by craig levers

 long beach walks with stretched out lefts 

long beach walks with stretched out lefts 

If you were a traveler to New Zealand or had this last week off and were able to go swell [or should that be conditions] chasing you'd have to be one pretty damn stoked out surfer. Both coasts of both islands have had their days. I know this 'cos Instagram tells me, and everything on Insty is real right?  But I'm also getting agonisingly good text and pxt from me ol' mate Wazza Hawke in the Mainland. I generally reply with a F%ck you Wazza! Knowing that he knows I'm stoked he's scoring the goodness.  

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Rambo scored this week out East 


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Taranaki's Mr Shaun Coffey aka Coffdawg  scored big time yesterday as the predicted swell filled in on the west coast

Of course you know these three great surf photogs from their stunning work in such books as The South Seas aye :) 

And Me? Well I was struck down with the dreaded man-flu, plans to go for long lonely swims out east were dashed. I just couldn't get my act together. I waited for the waves to come to me. There was luck involved for sure, but Monday had a tiny window... 

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The CPL contribution to this week's Instagram surf frenzy, but you knew that 'cos you're following right? 

Elliot Paerata-Reid kicked my sorry sick arse into gear for a all too quick session with Toby Dobson-Smith and Kye Bedford in tow. 


Toby slipped into the first one of the session. 36 frames of giff glory 


EPR taking Toby's lead


And meanwhile Brendan Shadbolt picked off gems at Te Bar


Back out in front EPR feeling out just how far back your can backdoor a section


Backhand practice for this weekend's Rip Curl Raglan Classic? 


EPR on the last one... it was a good last one. 

And just like that our window closed, the tide changed and a southerly breeze whipped up. But for 30-40 all too brief a moments it was pretty damn good.   


Ahhh yes the aforementioned South Seas book, NZ best surf photographers and some of NZ's best surf, still available nationwide in all good surf stores or of course direct HERE 

More From The Collection Vol 1 by craig levers


The Collection Vol 1... Wazza's brainchild and new best seller from PhotoCPL Media HERE

Last week's E-Bomb went pretty nuts. I'm a stat and analytics watcher, trying to figure out what subscribers do and don't warm to... and then still probably ranting on about whatever.  You can read last week's HERE


The Roger Hall interview in The Collection Vol 1 is one of the most challenging profiles I've ever done. It's not because Roger is hard to interview, it is because he has been interviewed so many times before for magazines and books. Those interviews have tended to be a bit Ra-Ra and concentrated on the positive. There is nothing wrong with that, but we needed more than gush for The Collection. One of the concepts of The Collection is to be more real, honest and wart'n'll. And that's pretty challenging when you're interviewing friends, peers and elders of the tribe. But having that inside view also means you know the questions to ask, the ones that will hopefully yield the good oil. 


Rog, quite literally in his natural habitat at the Racecourse


Insert Breaking Bad reference here! 

Here is the first third of the profile that featured in The Collection Vol 1. We entitled it Humble Pie, not because Roger is humble [he is though] more because he kept firm in his conviction to explore different designs and surf craft while very publicly being mocked. The mockers are now the ones eating humble pie.  


Rog walking the talk

From The Collection Vol 1...

Some insight about meeting Roger; he connects with people very easily. His passion for crafting boards is infectious. He engages and shares detail that others would not be comfortable doing. He's humble and sincere. He drags you in. He's a perfectionist. He's kind of a nerdy mad professor. But it's that nerdy-ness that makes him the tinkerer, the inventor and the innovator.  

Here's an example; most board makers get a blank from the manufacturer that blow the foam. These come in a variety of sizes, densities and a whole host of options, like multiple stringers, lightweight etc. The Shaper chooses the blank that they feel best suits the board you've asked for.  Then shape the design out of that, a nice simple work flow right? 

No, not Roger. He's found a way to make boards stronger. He gets custom blanks made, sans stringer [that bit of wood that runs down the middle of your board]. He has sourced his own stringers, he uses Poplar wood because of its strength and memory. You can't pop down to the hardware store and pick up Poplar planks. No one stocks Poplar; that would be too easy.  Roger has his man that fells and harvests the trees in the Waikato. 


Customs from the stringer up

Once dried and aged, the Poplar planks are then hand selected for each custom board. The plank is milled to the profile of that board. The stringerless blank is dissected and glued to this custom stringer. And now the blank is ready to start. Anal-retentive? Probably.  But what it all means is that Roger has found a way to make a stronger, lighter board. The process of making foam blanks means the strongest part is the outside skins. By removing the least possible amount from the blank Roger's final product is stronger. But what a procedure! 

Every system in the factory has been subjected to this type of rigor. Roger does everything just a little different, and maybe, just a little better. I remember interviewing him 20 years ago and he showed me his logbook. Every board shaped was faithfully recorded. Most shapers take measurements every foot along the length of a board to make sure their lines and cuts are right. Not Roger, he's every 3 inches. He has always been on a quest to remove the variables, to be concise. 
And this isn't even the stuff that put him on the outer with his peers in the '70's. It was [and is] his lateral approach to board design. His personal conviction to ride boards that suited the waves. 

"Yeah I become aware of the criticism early on, it was pretty hard to miss. From the start I had this wide open vision of what surfboards could be.  They could be anything you could imagine. And there was a real case for riding lots of different surfboards, exploring different shapes and riding waves in different ways.  Waves vary dramatically from place to place and from tide to tide. So why would you ride the same board. I mean, we're all individuals, so in theory we should all be surfing differently anyway. Surely surfboards should be different.  I always had this idea that surfboards could be different from one another. So I just pursued that, it felt like a natural thing to do.

That was fine when I was in my little Beam Bay Bubble with my group of buddies and we were having fun. But then I decided to build a string of boards and put them in a shop. I went along to Wilkinson Sports in Whangarei, there weren't any surf shops in town then, they put a rack of my boards in there. And that's pretty much when the trouble started.
This was the early 1970's, there were the standard single fins in the rack, but there were also twin keel fishes there. I think the twin keel fishes was the first example of me doing things that I felt were a natural thing to do and then exposing it to other people. People weren't aware of these designs and that they were coming out of San Diego, that it was something that was happening in California. They weren't ready for it, the boards just looked weird to them. And they thought it was directly attributable to me." 

Of course nowadays Twin Keel Fishes are in every hipster's quiver. But in the early '70's it was easy to dismiss Roger as well and truly being off on his own trip. In fact that is almost exactly what a senior member of the Northland scene levelled at the shop assistants.  It undermined Roger's credibility with Wilkinson's and of course was hard not to take as a personal slight.  

But Roger never really helped himself either, refusing to fit in, he stuck to his guns very publicly. There was a surf competition on at Sandy Bay. The scene was small in the '70's and early '80's, competitions were regarded as a meeting of the tribe.  Also they were a chance to showcase your wares. At the time surfboards had dropped in length to under 6ft with a mix of Single Fins and Mark Richards inspired Twin Fins.

Well, Roger decides to go in the comp. He also decides to ride his newly shaped 7'11" longboard, talk about sticking your neck out to get your head lopped off.
"I had just returned from Hawaii, totally inspired by what Ben Aipa was doing. He'd paddle out on a long board and totally rip on that, go in and get his 6’5” Shortboard and blaze on that. It was a massive vindication of what I thought surfing could be. 


At this time long boarding had completely died. The only place you saw ”an old dunger” was the lawn in front of the Lifesaving Club or the rare old diehard. I got back from Hawaii and shaped a long board. It was short by today's standards, but it was the longest blank I could find. 

So I get up to Sandy Bay for the competition, I really didn't think anything of it, I was amped to ride my new board.  As I pulled it out of the back of the van it was literally a 'you could hear a pin drop moment'. Then I could hear sniggering and giggling. As I looked down the row of cars there were a couple of well known guys theatrically holding their ribs, bent over, about to roll on the gravel.  You know, it was one of those things, 'why would this guy want to ride a board like that. Why would you shape one and why the hell would you show up at a contest with it!' It was like 'what planet is this guy on!' kind of vibe."

So how'd he go? "Well the funny thing is I actually got a mention in the paper! I was still making boards at my parent's home. I was working away and Mum comes out on the balcony 'Listen to this' and I almost remember it word for word. Mum read it out ' Perhaps the most notable performance was that of Ruakaka surfer Roger Hall, who impressed, despite riding a long single fin surfboard'. 

The thing that surprised me about all the criticism was why would they even care. So they couldn't get their head around what I was doing, but so what? Why should anyone really care about what Roger Hall is doing up in Ruakaka. The bit that was hard to take, was that I got that reaction, I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t understand it. And it was such a slap, you know? " 


Despite the very vocal naysayers something was going on. By the early '80's Roger was getting his boards into a lot of shops. Surf stores are not Art Galleries, they stock stuff to sell it. "I did react to the negative reactions, in a way it did me a favour, because I dug my toes in. I resolved myself to, no, this feels right for me to be surfing these boards.  And if it feels right for me, it's gotta feel right for other people. So yeah, I kind of thought I had a point to prove here. 

The thing is, as much as I did get that negative reaction, I also got some really positive reaction. A guy in Gisborne, then a guy in Dunedin, then a guy in Christchurch, then someone in Wellington would get in touch; 'Hey I wouldn't mind one of those boards made, they look a lot of fun.'  

I'd make the board and send it down. The local board makers didn't want a bar of making boards like this. So surfers ordering my boards didn't feel disloyal getting one. So slowly but surely I was sending boards to the four corners of New Zealand."

“While I'm copping the flack, here I am shipping these orders out.” 

AND CUT.... wanna read the other 2/3's of the feature? Well you're going to have to find the book for that... Oh wait you could find it HERE :) 

And speaking about interviews.... 


As I dislike being on the front of the lens, so too do I like being interviewed. It's just weird. Weird answering questions, not doing the asking. But I also know it's important as a freelancer to get yourself out there. Thanks to Reuben for being kind to me in the interview. You can read Reuben's Blog HERE 


Reuben used 'Sundowner' as the opening image for the interview, which I liked a lot as it's a very fresh image. You can check it out larger HERE and LIKE it, Share it, Pin it, Tweet It, Email it...all of the options are on page...AND of course you could always BUY IT :) 

Excerpts From The Collection Vol 1 by craig levers

I've always been a massive fan of Warren Hawke's work. I grew up on the stuff. In the '80's there was a NZ surf mag called Free Bird and Warren's photography was prevalent in it. One of the very first surf posters I had on my wall was a Free Bird centrefold of Warren's. It was Mangaumanu at Dawn absolutely firing. In 1992 I nearly bought his old Century 650mm lens, he very kindly sent it up to me from New Brighton. To be honest I was fan boying out, talking to him on the phone and getting the lens sent up for inspection. I desperately wanted to buy it, but upon seeing it I knew it just wasn't the right move. 

Warren Hawke's centrefold line up that Free Bird actually lost the original slide mentioned, this image was from the same roll of film. 

We became foes. Not over the lens, over working for competing magazines. For 15 years there was a firm rivalry between us. Actually, I'm going to drop Waz in it here- HE had a rivalry, I was still fan boying out. But I was aware of a reticence, of a reserved demeanour whenever we'd cross tripod legs at surf comps.  

But then I left the magazine to start making books. And at a surf comp both Waz and I were shooting, Waz started sowing seeds about this... 

NZ Surf CBASL.jpg

Limited stock still available HERE

We made a book together. And we sold a shit ton of them. But the best thing that came out of it was the friendship. In 2016 Waz started making noise about a new book project...


The Collection Vol 1... Wazza's brainchild and new best seller from PhotoCPL Media HERE

I wasn't sold at first pitch. I could see how much work was going to have to go into the collation and generation of the stories and profiles for Waz [and I]. With the publisher hat firmly on, it looked like a book project that would be hard to show the reader what they are getting. My Book Sellers, the people who sell to the mainstream stores loved the idea though. And that's all that was needed to press the go button.  It consumed Waz for a year, writing, shooting, wrangling contributors and then overseeing just how all that is presented on the pages. 


Being really honest Waz fell into some well known editor traps. He put too much in. He put over 500 images into the 186 page volume. I'm a less is more editor, be ruthless, and let the bangers breathe and be real heroes of the spreads. Waz is more emotional, he loves, lives and breathes the stories behind each image and strives to get in as many different people as possible. I'm the Publisher not the Editor, so it was important that Waz's editorial direction and aesthetic be respected. And in many ways I was wrong, Waz was right, we've sold a shit ton of The Collection Vol 1 . The people have spoken, with their purchases. 

The idea with this E-bomb was to share a excerpt in fuller form from The Collection, but the intro has got away on me a bit and turned into its own story. But that's what I like about these posts, there's no hard rules. The Collection included a section called NZ Surf Villages, Piha, Sumner, Muriwai and Waiuku were the surf villages profiled. But later in the book, Wellington, Gizzy, The Coro, BOP and Kaikoura also get their own chapters. Waz did a damn fine job of getting regional diversity. 

Here's The Piha Chapter that Waz made me write and shoot, minus the Garry Pike interview and the tale of Baz, you'll have to get the book to read those gems :) 


Piha Local James Macapline on his favourite peak


The West coast village just 45 minutes from Downtown Auckland has had more than its fair share of media.
We are infamous for drowning the unwary.  The TV dramatisation Piha Rescue did it.  It was broadcasted into the nation's living rooms for a staggering 15 years. The show fuelled people's [very logical] fear of rips and high seas. Piha surfers loathed it. Theatrical rescues with lifesavers hamming it up for the camera. But when you explain to someone you're from Piha the general reaction will be "oh you surf THERE! I love Piha Rescue! Wow, that's so dangerous, you must be a great surfer." You find yourself nodding in confirmation "Yeah, you've gotta be careful out there." 
Piha is the birthplace of modern NZ surfing.
It is the surf beach that Californians Bing Copeland and Rick Stoner visited and stayed in 1958.  The two surfers' had modern Malibu surfboards that were able to cut across a wave face. This blew the minds of local clubbies like Pete Byers, Buddy Cox, Roger Curtis and Murray Bray. Bing recalls the two boards stayed in the water from dawn to dusk that summer. The boards are on show in the rafters of the Piha Surf club to this day.
Pete Byers became one of New Zealand's first surfboard makers. The savvy entrepreneur rented and sold his boards on the beach.  Pete built a mould to blow his own blanks. He supplied most of the other NZ surfboard makers and exported blanks to the Aussies. All from little ole Piha.


The Bar


Piha/Bali resident Nick Ngu Chun well used to being here on the Bar
What of The Surf?  
One thing Piha never lacks is waves and sometimes they are even surfable. Piha surfers do surf A LOT, it is often a quantity not quality equitation. 
The famous, iconic Piha Bar does not exist. It is an absolute myth. The left hander that peeled from Nun Rock, down Taitomo Island to the shadow of Lion Rock. It has not broken for decades. Folklore would have it that the Bar was there for the 50's to the late 80's. On low tide there was the Bar and on high tide there was the Ditch. I loved the Ditch as a gremmie of the '80's. 


Dune Kennings caught his first wave in the Ditch...this is not the Ditch...well maybe outer outer Ditch? 

The Ditch doesn't exist either. Man, I miss it. If the Bar was the grown ups' wave, then the Ditch was the spawning ground. In the southern corner of South Piha starting at mid tide a right-hand reform would appear. As the tide moved in the reform would only get better. The bigger the swell, the better it got. It got heavy, it could get up to 6 foot. We had the most perfect surfers' beach. Low tide long lefts and a go-to reform on every high tide, everyday of the year. Surfers' decision to base at Piha was on the assumption that these two go to waves would always be there. The Ditch silted up. It's gone. 
The two waves were symbiotic. The Pakiti rip [the south end rip] gouged out the ditch that made the reform. The sand that it gouged out was then deposited on the Bar. There are thousands of theories about our loss. The three I think most probable are these. There is a documented trillion ton sausage of sand silting up the West coast beaches. The once strong South Piha stream that divided South Piha is a trickle.  This stream added volume to the Pakiti rip. It has been stifled by water flow redirections in the streets above the bay. The dunes got topped in the late '80's by Bach owners hell bent on creating living room sea views.  A view that was never there before. I don't think it is one thing; they all have had their effect.


Dave 'Chicken Legs' Wood... as Piha as you can get
Every so often lefts will form in the general area of Taitomo Island.  Taitomo is the island the bookends South Piha and has the famous Keyhole cave running through it. The locals get excited, the Bar is back! Yes, the lefts are created by the Pakiti rip deposits. But these lefts are often only two or three sections, 100-200 metres of ride. It is a far cry from the terrifying lurch and launch of outside Submarine rock.  A truly horrible underwater feature just to the outside of the Keyhole.  Then the throw of the Beehive section before the link to Pakiti and beyond.


Piha regular Bevan Wiig finding options sans Bar
Years before Pete Byers passed I asked him about the lack of Bar now, and how it was in the halcyon days. He scoffed 'Ahhhhh maaaaate, it has always come and gone. I remember in the late '60's we didn't surf it for years.' I think Mr. Byers was right. The trillions of tons of sand are supposed to move past us on their northern drift. There are cycles within larger cycles.    
Present day Piha is far from waveless. In the '80's North Piha was rarely surfed, you had to be selective, wait for the summer banks, wait for tide. Now there are resident surfers that only surf North P. To join the surf schools, the clubbies and general malaise that is the chaos of South is a fail. For a decade at least North P has been where the real surfers go.


Best buddies Elliot Paerata Reid and Dune, paying for playing
The aforementioned siltation has done it. Sometimes banks of an epic scale.  Remember that old advert on TV 'Never swim in a calm patch on a surf beach' well that was filmed at North Piha. The advert featured a hole created by a rip that ran from the shore out about 500 metres. Of course waves don't break in deep water, but they do peel along the edge of those holes. And these are our typical banks, not your average beach break A-frame. No, no, no, we get looooong peeling waves that better resemble a point break type length. Piha surfers are good at paddling [in rips], duck diving [in rips] and cutbacks [because of rips]. We don't go for surfs, we go for paddles.  

Warren Hawke has his own website called Surfers Wall, check it out HERE

Going Hans Solo by craig levers


This image is now available as a print HERE

I couldn't believe my bad luck. I rang seven different mates to find a traveling buddy for this mission. The swell maps showed it was going to be on, they all saw it and knew it. But not one of them would press the go button. The problem was they'd all burned their credits and sick leave on Easter Weekend and its swell. There was nothing left in the tank. 

I was going regardless, I was going to be Nigel No Mates for four days. It bothered me, I like sharing the fun of a roady. I couldn't believe 7 from 7 couldn't do it. But I went, solo. 

The destination was a beach that I love as much as Piha. And where it is isn't important, if you know then you know. I'm not quite sure why this stretch of sand has always captivated me. It does indeed tick all the boxes. Beautiful golden sand. A pleasing arc to its shores. Surf. On its day exceptional surf. Great fishing too I'm told. 

I first visited the beach in the late '80's, and since then it has been a semi regular haunt. In 2004 I was in a whisker's breath of buying some land five minutes down the road. I'm still not sure if opting out was the right decision. 


The shot used by Rip Curl in the '90s and the back cover of the book PhotoCPL

Over the years the beach has been kind to me. It yielded a Rip Curl Search image in 1995. For a while in the mid nineties it was the go to for photo shoots and surfs. Dozens of centrefold and feature shots have come from it. The wave quality and water colour being a somewhat valid excuse to make the 5 hour drive. As much as that, it was the adventure, albeit tame, a long drive and then a dash of 4x4-ing down the dunes. Staying in cabins. Being able to not bother other surfers by finding your own peak. 


Been missing this place

In recent years I haven't been able to make the drive so often. Family comes first. But I got to fill my boots once more and rekindle the love affair. For 4 glorious days the swell pumped. It ranged from 3 foot A frames to 6 foot slabs. On out going tides the lefts would pump, on incoming the rights would turn on. 


Get out there fellas!


Options V1


Sand Dredger


Lots of lonely ones went through unridden


Options to the left and right 


Crystalline. You can view this image bigger, and buy a print HERE


Beautiful accident


Low tide left


No One Home. Room available with epic sea views and plenty of space. More than enough room to swing a cat. Prefer Goofy footers but Natural footers should have no problem nestling in either. Owners seldom home. To view this larger and buying options check it out HERE


Pretty sure this must be a quad right? 


Fish eye barrel view


Defo a three fin!


Never mind the mind surfing mate, get out there!


Aussie dingo Murray Antonieff got some of the best ones 


6'3" Alex Long managed to stuff his lanky frame in a couple


Muzza's paddle out


Crystal cylinders for daze. This image can also be viewed larger and bought for your wall HERE



Pretty much a vista you could handle every dawn huh!


The scramble to get that last one before the sun drops, and then you get it, it's good and hollow, it even breaths and spits. The best way to end a day. To view this one larger and purchasing options just click HERE

Being Hans Solo wasn't so bad as it turned out. It's harder to begrudge a solo surfer paddling out onto a peak. I made new friends, had great chats with locals and other roadsters. I ran to my own timetable and only had me to blame for missing out.  

It's Black Friday!!!

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You may remember ...or not... there was a post last month about how absolutely shit Watercare's plan is to nail 10 acres of regenerated native bush in Titirangi. No? Well that post is HERE

I'm thrilled to be walking the talk and be involved in the group exhibition ON DEATH ROW which is opening TONIGHT! You can find out more about the exhibition and the cause HERE

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But also it is the grand finale of the The O'Neill Aotearoa Surf Film Festival
You can book online HERE  

So whatcha gonna do? Do both! 

From The Book Store  


Yeeooowww! The South Seas Book just landed a rave review and feature in the latest Smorgasboarder Magazine! Smorgasboarder is freely available in surfshops throughout New Zealand and Aussie, so landing that much space is pretty damn cool. Check out the South Seas book HERE

East-Cape-ing by craig levers

Ok, settle in for a long post with lots of topics... exactly what they tell you at web log school not to do. 

But first the fun bits and then the bite.


Beautiful Mahiasian sundowners

The gorgeous Ange and I have been back a week now from an epic tour of the East Cape. We spent 10 days living out of the mighty Cambulance. The dates were locked in months ago, work, weddings and other events conspired to make the 10 days we had, the only 10 days we could have. As it turned out the weather pattern was not good for surf, there were doggy doors here and there, but as we travelled these surf doors closed. But that's cool, the Eastern shores have so much more to offer than just surf. 


The cambulance under a Tologa Bay night

Gizzy and The Cape hold so many memories for me, there was a time where I'd be in Gizzy at least once a month to shoot surf. You can't not get attached to the people and the places when you're doing that much time. Ange hadn't been often so I got to play tour guide. 


Cambulance finds an old friend parked up in Mahia 


Gizzy Island... temptingly close to pumping 


Tologa Bay Wharf... it's bloody long! 


The wharf under stars

It is often talked about, that the East Cape is a refreshing step back in time. I suspect East Capers would cringe at the generalisation, that what outsiders see at rustic, they experience as a lack of infrastructure and a region largely ignored by central government. Once thriving wharves and their associated towns are shadows of their former glory. The wharves were the link to the outside world, the way that stores were shipped in and wool and stock was shipped out. Coastal Shipping in NZ was a huge industry until roading and cattle trucks made it all largely redundant. 


Tokomaru Bay Woolstore exterior


Tokomaru Bay Woolstore Interior ... well it's not that internal to be fair

Of course this all makes for a photographic frenzy. Gritty studies of turn of the 19th century buildings and facades. Like any Kiwi photographer I'm hugely influenced by the work of Robin Morrison, his book A Sense Of Place published in 1984 was a watershed moment. New Zealanders were starting to move out from under Mother England's shadow and were slowly developing our own identity. A Sense Of Place reflected and in fact heralded that shift in culture. There's a brilliant docco short film, about Robin, in fact as he was dying of cancer here


The old Bank of New Zealand building Tokomaru 


The Bank of New South Wales, Tokomaru 


Beautiful mess Waipiro Bay 


Cambulance wave porn somewhere on the Cape


Cape Runaway from Waihau Bay... as seen in the book Beached As Then and Now 


Raukokore Church, an icon of the Cape


The Cambulance in full camp mode

10 days was good, but as always the familiar; but next time we need to spend longer at... or stay at... and then the surf has been good all this week in Gizzy, Dammit! - next time. 

Black Friday

It's gonna be a busy day Friday April 13th

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You may remember ...or not... there was a post last month about how absolutely shit Watercare's plan is to nail 10 acres of regenerated native bush in Titirangi. No? Well that post is HERE

I'm thrilled to be walking the talk and be involved in the group exhibition ON DEATH ROW which is opening on the next black friday, you can find out more about the exhibition and the cause HERE

But also that night is the grand finale of the The O'Neill Aotearoa Surf Film Festival

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Here's the remaining schedule for this season. You can book online HERE  

So whatcha gonna do? Do both! 

And speaking of Big Brother bulldozing...  


stolen from the Action Station petition site

In a really fucked up move... and I can write that 'cos that's how I feel about it; NZTA and NZ Rail are planning to reek havoc on a national treasure Mangaunu.

I could [and have in the past] waxed on about what a special place Mangaunu, Kaikoura is. About how as a grommie the very first surf centrefold I had on my wall was Warren Hawke's dawn line up of the point firing, it was my first bucket list listing. The fact remains Mangamaunu is one of 17 nationally significant surf breaks listed in schedule one of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, so touching it is a dodgey move. Find out more about it HERE

From The Book Store  


Yeeooowww! The South Seas Book just landed a rave review and feature in the latest Smorgasboarder Magazine! Smorgasboarder is freely available in surfshops throughout New Zealand and Aussie, so landing that much space is pretty damn cool. Check out the South Seas book HERE

Adventures In Light by craig levers

I've been on the road for the last 10 days, and as much as that's been epic, it is pretty damn nice to come home to a big courier pack. 


Australian master surf photographer Ted Grambeau's new book is stunningly beautiful. And that sentence right there is all you need to really know, but hey, this is the weekly CPL E-Bomb, so lets fill up some time :) 


The hardcover large format book comes in it's own box. It's 31cm square, with heavy stock art paper. It's big in every sense at 240 pages. The whole package also includes a signed Ted print. It is one slick production, underwritten by Rip Curl, this would be my only complaint which is not really a complaint. I just wasn't expecting it to be a Rip Curl book. Ted has worked closely with Rip Curl for most of his long career, so there shouldn't have been a surprise. And flicking through the book, there's no question Rip Curl have done an amazing job of facilitating Ted's adventures over the last 4 decades.   


Being under written by Rip Curl has probably also facilitated the incredibly inexpensive cover price. It's only $69.90 AUD plus shipping- trust me on this one- it's a $150.00 book.


You'll already know many of the images, but in this collection they are thoughtfully curated and placed carefully together to create a flowing edition.


The book Adventures In Light absolutely show cases one of surf photography's masters whom remains to this day at the peak of his powers.


Want to find out more? Here's the link to the book on Ted's site   

The O'Neill Aotearoa Surf Film Festival

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Here's the remaining schedule for this season. You can book online HERE  

From The Book Store


Now here's some random facts, 503 people LIKE the South Seas Book website page and 1712 people follow its Facebook page. Bet you not all of them own it though. Does The South Seas book rival Adventures In Light? Yes, yes it does. Slighter higher production values with the fabric binding, gold embossing, and title debossing on the cover, use of variations of art stock text. An extensive intro chapter on the history of NZ surfing from our pioneers... hmmmm not better, but equally as worthy of your consideration perhaps? Books rule! Check out the South Seas book HERE

Keeping YOU busy by craig levers

The O'Neill Aotearoa Surf Film Festival 

The ASFF is in it's 6th year of running. And full credit has to go to the founder and dynamo that keeps a steady wheel, Nick Stevenson. It has been his vision since day dot, and he's pretty much pulling it off. Nick is passionate about encouraging young Kiwi film makers, every year he has managed to increase the prize pool for young locals. How do I know all this- well Nick roped me in as a founding judge on the screening panel, and I've continued to be invited back each season. I tell ya, I have seen some shit, but in amongst it there are some soaring moments of creativity and inspiration. 

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Gizzy showings this year at the Dome Bar and Theatre

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Christchurch this week!

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The Mount indoor screening

Nick takes the selection of short films and features on the road in a national tour. It's grassroots stuff, He loads up the Subby wagon and leaves his family for a month, touring NZ's coastal surf towns, there are glaring regional gaps, but every year another venue gets added.

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Here's the remaining schedule for this season. You can book online HERE  

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Further more and hither to all things grass roots, The Duke Festival is in full swing right now. It is New Zealand's largest surf festival, and I believe the surf comp this weekend attracts the largest field of competitors of any national contest. My main man Warren Hawke is one of the co-founding organisers of the week long festival. It includes a surf art exhibition [of which I couldn't get my act together to be involved] Film showings [yep the ASFF is tied in] concert, dinners, and board exhibition. If you're in glorious ChurChur this weekend, New Brighton is the place to be. 

The Duke Festival is firmly aimed at revitalising the coastal suburb, both after the earthquakes- the area was part of the worse affected- but also an on going push to see New Brighton lifted and recognised as a vibrant coastal suburb. It's something Warren is super passionate about... but you'd know that from reading his book NZ Surf Captured By A Surf Lens and his tales of growing up in the hood.  

But if you're stuck in the North...


Then Corona and Billabong NZ have you sorted with the annual Salt Circus  now in it's third year of running, this Saturday's event is firmly centred around casual fun and everything surfing. It's more a gathering than a hard out contest, with board meets, expression sessions and later a party at the legendary Astrolabe.  


Or if you'd rather just stay at home and have a good read, maybe hang some art then... 


Have we got a deal for you, you can take this offer up HERE

And the Winners Are...  

Last week's mailer was a short profile on surfing artist Greg Straight; wait you missed it? Well, the profile is preserved in perpetuity HERE 

In that mailer was a subscriber only competition for three of Greg's prints 

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Entries were strong! Everyone was assigned a number and then drawn using's random number selector so everything was fair and random. The three winners are getting sent out their prints today, you already know who you are if you are. 

From The Galleries

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Here is a fine fine example of a 1200mm wide canvas in situ, the image is in architect Carolyn Gundy's own self designed home, which is an absolutely stunning sun trap. You can check out her website HERE . The image is Piha Peak click HERE to view it larger

Hanging With Mr Straight by craig levers


As you're about to read Greg and I have known each other for 25 years. More recently we bump into each other  all over the show, at galleries and the framers where we both get work done. Greg is prolific. He and his wife Hannah have done a great job to getting his art  into galleries around the country. 

I'm in awe of the retail network they have created. I'll walk into one of my key accounts for the books and bam there's another Greg Straight print. Turn on the telly; and there's a Greg Straight Macca's animated advert. He's getting it done. He's on trend with his bold coloured Kiwiana graphic style.


Last week at Piha, Mr Straight can still bang it!  

Let's go back to the start and tell us about your first foray  in creating something surf related. What was the idea with Octi and when did you start that? 

Octi was a clothing line I started in 1994 once I’d completed my BFA. It was a street wear label and at its peak sold in 12 stores nationwide. I was so green with the business side of things it was never going to be financial. After a couple of years I decided to pull the pin.

I wanted Octi to be 100% NZ made. I was to discover it is near impossible when you take into account how much things cost to make here in NZ. 

I did learn a lot from the whole Octi experience and it saved me from working for the man for a few years. I recall I surfed a lot back then.

I think this is how I first met you CP. If I remember rightly we had organised an Octi surf shoot at Piha on a Saturday morning with Jake ‘The Snake’ Hogan and Paul ‘PH’ Wynter.  The swell jumped up and the wind swung so it never happened. 

[I didn't remember that part of it at all! I recall us having a great evening of BBQ and beers . Then Team Octi crashing on my lounge floor for the night- fun times! - CP]


25 years later, we finally do the surfing shoot! 

How long were you in the UK, what were you doing there and is that where you met Hannah?

I lived in London for 6 years and worked as a graphic designer for mostly fashion brands. It was full time and then freelance. It was pretty cool working on accounts like Bench, Dr. Martens, Duffer and Fenchurch. 

When I arrived I got made redundant twice in the first 2 years. After the first time I took the redundancy pay and bought my first computer; an iMac. I used it every day and brushed up on my design skills, it was one of the best things I ever did, that was back in 2002.

Design wise I was creating a lot of tee shirt graphics and repeat prints for clothing. I have always loved tee shirts from 80's skateboarding tees to punk rock tees. Creating graphics for forward thinking and creative brands was a bit of a dream come true.

I also met my wife Hannah there in 2000 while she was working at a design company. She went onto having some pretty cool jobs working for a couple of West London’s top nightclubs.  And later an independent record label called Barely Breaking Even (BBE). 

London is definitely a crazy but very awesome place. I still miss those days.


Speed checking and racing 

Moving back to NZ, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do work-wise? Was there a concern you were moving from a big pool to a smaller market?

Towards the end of our time in England I started surfing more (doing regular trips down to Devon).  I had started really missing NZ and my family, so we decided to have a 2 year trial back in Aotearoa. If that didn’t work out we were planning on heading back.

I continued freelancing for some UK companies but as time went by the distance made it difficult. I did a bunch of tees for Huffer, RPM and the odd one for Federation.  But was soon to realise being a tee shirt guy was a limiting and underpaid.

We got married during that first year of being in NZ and discovered 5 days before the big day we were expecting our first. We had to buy a house and grow up real fast!

Then Hannah saw an ad for a full time position with a supplier for a graphics guy. The pay was a lot less than I was getting in the UK and the work was way less creative.  But with a mortgage and now family to support I took it and stayed there for 7 years.


The Papamoa daze; Greg with his first proper board, a Bob Davie shaped twin... and a rocking Piping Hot overlocked steamer! 

There's a lot of beach and surf references and orientation to your work. Are you always trying to sneak a cheeky reference in? 

I’ve always loved and been fascinated by the ocean. I started surfing when I was 11 and I was hooked. I became totally obsessed.

My aunty and uncle used to live at Papamoa, every school holiday we would go down there and I'd surf as much as I could. I have so many fond memories of this time and I try to tap into some of this nostalgia with my artwork. You know the weathered bach, beaten up longboard, the Kombie parked on the lawn.

But not all my prints feature the beach or have surf references. I recently created some South Island inspired prints just to mix up all the summer heavy imagery.

The Piha print was one of five artworks I created for retail store Texan Art Schools looking at different iconic Auckland locations. Piha had to have a couple of retro 80's surfboards in it and have the Bar breaking – how could it not! 

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I remember one time we went out there when I was about 13, the road was gravel back then and my mum made us all chicken soup. We took my mate Jeremy with us and on one of the sharp corners he lost his shit and hurled chicken soup. It went all over dad’s station wagon splattering our legs with regurgitated Watties. Needless to say, we never asked him again.


Greg in the studio signing a print you could have won...ummm if you were a subscriber to the PhotoCPL E-Bomb that is.  

How's the surfing/work/family balance going?

It’s a real juggle bro! Life is super busy and weekends are full on with kids activities and general house chores.  I tend to surf during the week. 

About 4 years ago I used to work every night after my day job, to about midnight and worked a lot of weekends. That’s definitely not a good work/family/surf balance. It was the only way  to transition from a full time job that was soul destroying (creatively), to being self-employed and following my dream.

I'm now surfing more than I have in 17 years. Saying that it's only once or twice a week but I'm happy with that. I don't have a boss (except the wife). I spend more time with my kids, which I love.  I get to work on some pretty cool projects with generally awesome clients.

So the answer to your question is the balance right now is pretty damn good!

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Check out Greg's website for more of his fine, fine work HERE 

From The Bookstore 


The fully Revised Edition of The South Seas just keeps on trucking. Over 80% new content and more pages added, it's basically a whole new edition, not just a revision. Want to sample a sneak peak and maybe even purchase? Well just click HERE

The Future Is Bright by craig levers

The Future Is Very Bright 


Tom Norton pre start chill

I still love shooting surfing contests. Even after 25 years of standing behind the tripod getting marinated in the sun for hours on end, maybe it's a warped muscle memory, a familiarity, nostalgia - I dunno. But I love getting the call up to be the shooter. 


Tom and Caleb Cutmore...positioning for the peak

I was the shooter last weekend for final event of the 2018 Billabong Grom Series held here at Piha. It's a rad way to keep in touch with the who's coming through the ranks. In the front row observing every piece of body language with a critical eye, looking for good shots. 


Jared Gebert racking points

Back in the day it was a no-no to shoot water photos during a heat. While the ASP [now WSL] rule book stated two water photographers using a longer focal length lens than 80mm were allowed to be in the water. It wasn't cool to do it. I remember vividly a weekend surf photographer swimming out at Rocky Lefts during a heat in 1994, Nick Ngu Chun was competing, he went up for a good forehand reo and connected with the photographer's water housing. He knocked out a fin. Nick didn't have time to come in and get another board so he tried the surf the heat without the fin- he went from winning the heat to not making it through. For me this was a decisive event; I'd never be the photographer that impinged a surfer's scoring potential. I would not be THAT guy.


Caleb Cutmore on his way to U18 victory  

But things change, after 20 years of refusing to do it, I've got a set up that allows me to be in the water during a heat, but far enough away to keep out of the surfers' way. Even so I worry that some of the competitors get distracted by a dugong lookalike pointing a yellow water-housing at them from the shoulder. 


Luke Griffin; eyes on the prize- a seasoned competitor at 16




Nothing worse than seeing another competitor get a good turn in during your heat. Mica Black in exactly that predicament with Tom Norton sending spray

I'm happy to report I did not get in the way last weekend. And even happier to confirm the future NZ Surfing is looking pretty damn bright. There's a whole bunch of U18 and U16 competitors that are fighting to get through heats. The class of 2018 surf real well- and there's a lot of them.


Local Lad Shane Kraus giving Caleb a run for his money in the U18's  

Here are the results and press release for the Billabong Grom Series Final

And you can view more of the images I got from the event of Surfing NZ's Facebook Gallery HERE

But Yesterday Was Different ... 

Yesterday was all about free surfing with the fellas in fun waves, perfect sized west coast beachie peaks. 


Arty mate, it's fricken arty bro! 


Co creator of DZG magazine Skip James was in town to sample some westside curlers 


Skip high lining on his 4'10" twin


That mini twin goes pretty sweet backhand too


Piha local Mark Hansen and his son Moana caught all the bombs


hmmm KB... not such great board placement on this one


ahhh but he got his fair share of nuggets 


Artist Greg Straight slipping under the lip and clearly very worried about his trajectory with the up coming speed hump [that would be me!] 


From The Galleries


In 2013 this pano of Piha won an International Epson Pano Award. Seems just like last winter I was timing the fronts and sitting out rain squalls to get it. Love Piha's extremes! Click HERE to view the pano larger

Gita Comes To Visit by craig levers

But Before Gita...

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Sitting firmly in the category of 'A voice for Print' the TV equivalent of 'A face for Radio' I was interviewed for Monocle's The Stack podcast a couple of weeks ago. Here's the link . Monocle is a shinning light of magazine success in a multimedia world, with a circulation of over 80,000 per issue. Founded by the same creator of WallPaper Magazine, Monocle have created a media hub of print, web based radio [that's the bit I'm on] and a fast evolving website. The formula is one I'm convinced would transfer to surfing. 

Boring huh? Well for me no, I'm still passionate about surf media and would love to see something like this in surfing. The interview touches on this conviction. Thanks to Clair Urbahn for the opportunity, and cleaning up my dribble into some sort of cohesiveness. 

Gita Was Here 

As Cyclone Gita glanced down the west coast of New Zealand surfers gleefully wrung their hands in expectation of what treats she'd bring. To be fair it was a quick and brief affair, but for those on the spot there were moments for sure. 


Early morning peaks


A Gita treat 


The two usual suspects were on hand; Bevan Wiig [above] and James Mcalpine [below] 


Bevan's class act


James setting


Matty Ziegler's rush hour


Bevan on a Pipe-esk set up


Bevan tucked and tapering 

From The Bookstore


Billy Stairmand married his love Liana last Friday above Raglan. It was an awesome day of family, friends, love and laughs.


And that is probably THE most tenious segue to NZ Surf; The Collection Vol 1  which of course [as illustrated above by Billy] has a great feature of the multiple National Champ in it. Wanna know more about this book? Well click here for the preview. We've only got 200 left! 

Tree Hugger by craig levers

Titirangi's Waima Valley Could Get Ploughed 


Waima is a forested valley just to the north of Titirangi. There is an existing Watercare treatment plant there that treats and pumps water from the Waitakere dams to Auckland households. The treatment plant has been in operation since 1928. It's old, it's not able to cope with the demands of a growing city. So fair enough, something has to change. 


Watercare's answer is to mothball the old plant, citing the industrial buildings are of historical significance [which, in my opinion, is absolutely ridiculous] and clear 10 acres of native bush next to the existing plant to build the new one. The 10 acres of bush, literally due for the chop, is designated as significant ecological area. It has numerous stands of big Kauri in it, as well as many other mature natives.


It pisses me off. I don't even accept that the plant needs to be bigger. At Piha we don't have town supplied water, we collect our own from our roofs and have water tanks. Why can't every new build in the city be on tank water, easing the pressure on both water needed and Auckland's noted stormwater issues. We waste water. It seems ludicrous to me that city houses literally drain away perfectly good drinking water and then pay to have treated water piped in to water lawns and wash cars. I know that high density housing in the CBD or industry can't run to this model, but surely every freestanding dwelling could? 


It's just an idea, but the point is it seems Watercare's solution is a very narrow way on looking at things. Just build bigger. 

The majority of Waima's 2400 residents are pissed off too. For some there'd be an element of Nimby-ism for sure [ie Not In My Backyard] but for those ones actually why not? Probably a reason they chose to make Waima their home is that it is a native bush clad sanctuary. But from what I understand the vast majority of opposition stems from the senseless decimation of 10 acres of beautiful regenerating native bush. 


You can find out more about Watercare's plans on the Protect Titirangi Website


Shot in Waima this week, and destined for the bulldozer?

And me? Am I just sitting on my arse, in front of a screen, decreeing what should be done? No. I'm part of a group of creatives participating in a exhibition highlighting the Waima situation. I'll be giving you the details once the artwork is finalised, but the plan is to put on a group show with all the proceeds going to the Watercare fight.  


hashtag ishootfilm hashtag shootfilmstaypoor shot this week in Waima on the 617 panoramic film camera with Extar film... bloody getting close to $20 every time you press the shutter now! 

From The Galleries


Canon New Zealand love it enough to use it as their homepage for the last month, it also got used as the opening image for their professionals emailer and yesterday it was featured [as above] in the consumer email. Cheers Canon! 

You want it too aye, when check it out in the gallery HERE

Here We Go Again by craig levers

And So It Begins


Strap your paddling arms on, the West Coast of the North Island is in for yet another run of offshores. It looks like we are going to get a good week of it.


This spot, which will remain nameless due to it being highly localised and secretive, probably won't break again over the next week. The swell will be too small.


The bank isn't that good anyway. No one was making barrels last night. 


There were no defined take off points or sections


Kye Bedford, plainly no way he's gonna get to the face on this close out


Floyd Smith and no doubt a similar grim outcome as Kye's wave


Kye on a good double over header


Meanwhile out the back things are going to get hectic real soon


Local builder Al Sanders 


Clearly the rights were better 


Dune Kennings on a rare peeler 


Dave Wood getting tangled with a school of local predatory eels 


Kye in the box seat for the best show in town 


Dune on/in that section mentioned before, the one that's not really there 


Dave on a freak peeler, the rest all were straight handers 


West coast textures 


Dune and clearly, the end.

Good luck with your wave hunting over the next week. Go a little further, search a little harder, and thrive in the thrill of exploration. But always be respectful of the land, and the people that choose to call these places home.  Have fun. 

From The Book Store

What, you haven't got yours yet? Of the 1500 limited Editions printed there are 300 left... no now only 200 left!!! Yep 1300 went in 12 weeks!   - Just click in the image for a preview...and buying options.   

Mangawhai Has It Going On by craig levers

The Logger Heads Mangawhai 2018


So here I go writing a post about how I started shooting Longboarding and then half way through it I realise these words are kind of familiar, oh hold on, F@ck! I already wrote this exact theme HERE  . Delete that intro, and let's start again... 

The Logger Heads was on last weekend and it was bloody awesome! As always around the log scene, incredibly inclusive vibes. Fun in the sun... holey shit that sun. Mum says never complain about the heat so I won't. Here's my visual log of the logs... 


Mates Tom Mason and Matt Newdick prepare to battle out the Open Logger 


Waves to the left of me


Waves to the right of me


Moon Bob and Sam Bradford, now veterans of the scene


Expectant dad and solicitor to the stars Sam on the cross


Westie, Moon Bob aka Paul Culpan


Matt Newdick on his way to Open victory


Jordan Griffo was the fella to beat in both the Open and Old mal, the open eluded him but he nailed a victory in the Old Mal with fives and tens like this. 


Tom Mason putting his log through angles it was never meant for 


Me ol mate Sos made the finals of the old boys, he'll be back next year. 


Micro grub Charlie Barclay getting a hand


hmmm arty pinhole photograph that probably doesn't really work??? I dunno I like it.  


Natt Fitt getting ready for victory 


The winner's grin! Matt Newdick and Rhys Fitt shake on it 


The man that makes the Logger Heads happen, Mr Tony Baker, aka Banksy, aka Buddha. 

Here is the offical Press Release below, penned by Mr Baker of course: 

The Logger Heads 5 - Traditional Longboard Surfing event went off in style at Waipu Cove over the Auckland Anniversary Weekend. Contest Director Tony Baker made a late call to shift from Mangawhai Heads to the iconic Northland surf beach after swell and wind conditions looked ideal for "The Pu". The event is into its 5th year and 2018 saw nearly 60 competitors across 5 divisions. 

  Surfers traveled from Mount Maunganui, Gisborne, Christchurch, Waihi, Auckland and closer to home Ruakaka, Orewa, Mangawhai and Waipu to compete. With the focus on style, and traditional surfing, the contest required surfers to ride boards 9ft plus in length, with no leash and only a single fin. The contest was run across two days, and surfers enjoyed clean 1.0m swell with light to moderate winds both days. 

The Open Logger Division was hotly contested with some exceptional surfing going down in the early rounds. Jordan Griffin (Mount Maunganui) lead the charge along with a bevvy of young talent including Tom Mason (Auckland), Matt Newdick (Auckland), Guy Thompson (Mount Maunganui) and Rhys Whittaker (Waipu) . Former Single Fin Mingle winner Nic Todd (Christchurch) also made a strong impression, along with local shredder Glen Johnson (Mangawhai) and Auckland style master Paul Culpan (Auckland).  In the Finals it was a close battle for the win, with all surfers getting some great nose rides and linking together some nice traditional turns. In the end it was young Matt Newdick (Auckland) taking the win. Newdick, who is the current NZ Under 18 Scholastic Longboard Champ, was a standout all weekend, and well deserving of the victory. 

The Old Mal Division was equally as electric in nature, with some of the best surfing of the entire event taking place on Saturday afternoon. The boards, which are pre-1970s longboards, are heavy and challenging to surf at the best of times, but competitors made it look easy and timeless. With over 16 entries, the Old Mal a prestigious division in that most of the boards were nearly half a century in age. A stand out performance from start to finish by Mount Maunganui's Jordan Griffin saw him take the victory. Runner Up Paul Culpan (Auckland) also showed style and precision in the heats, along with Matt Newdick (Auckland) and Guy Edge (Gisborne). 

2018 saw an ever increasing number of entries in the Women's Division, with a bevvy of lady sliders taking to the waves to show off their style. Local surfers Deanne Cleary (Waipu Cove) and Robyn Cox (Ruakaka) showed some excellent style in round one, along with  Sabine "Beans" Baumgartner (Gisborne) .The events youngest competitor Charlie Barclay (Mangawhai) also enjoyed the fun waves on offer, along with the talented Louise Aitken (Auckland). In the final it was a close battle between "Beans" and 2017 winner Nicky Wellington (Auckland), and after a healthy exchange of waves it was Wellington who took her second Logger Heads title. 

Another hotly contested division was the Junior Logger. Local Mangawhai surfer Taj Robinson caught some great waves over the weekend along with Joey Cox (Auckland) and last years winner Bassie Waldron (Auckland). Billy Whelan (Mangawhai Heads) also showed some excellent skills throughout the event. In the final it was Natt Fitt (Red Beach) who stole the show. Fitt, who is only 13, has been a regular at the event and it was obvious he's been putting time into his craft, as he showed excellent wave selection and nose riding skills, taking a well deserved victory. 

This year saw the inclusion of a Master Division (Over 45 years) and didn't disappoint with the elder statesman of the sport putting on an excellent display of style and grace. Rhys Fitt (Red Beach) surfed well throughout the early rounds as did Stephen Sosich (Auckland) and Roger Hall (Ruakaka). A stand out performer was former South African Champ and Orewa local Mark Hoyle. In the finals Hoyle showed his full repertoire of switch foot surfing and speed turns. However, it was Orewa Longboard Club founder and Longboard Legend Paul Brown (Auckland) who claimed victory. Brown has been competing for over 3 decades and spends plenty of time based at Waipu Cove over the summer months. It was fitting that he should claim the maiden Logger Heads Masters win.  

OFFICIAL RESULTS - 2018 Logger Heads 5

Open Logger Division: 1st Matt Newdick (Auckland) 2nd Paul Culpan (Auckland) 3rd Ant McColl (Mount Maunganui) 4th Jordan Griffin (Mount Maunganui) 5th Glen Johnson (Mangawhai) 6th Rhys Fitt (Red Beach) 

Open Womens Logger: 1st Nicky Wellington (Auckland) 2nd Sabine Baumgartner (Gisborne) 3rd Deanne Cleary (Waipu Cove) 4th Robyn Cox (Ruakaka) 5th Charlie Barclay (Mangawhai)

Old Mal Division: 1st Jordan Griffin (Mount Maunganui) 2nd Paul Culpan (Auckland) 3rd Guy Edge (Gisborne) 4th Matt Newdick (Auckland) 5th Glen Johnson (Mangawhai Heads) 

Junior Logger Division: 1st Natt Fitt (red Beach) 2nd Bassie Waldron (Mangawhai Heads) 3rd Joey Cox (Auckland) 4th Taj Robinson (Mangawhai Heads) 

Masters Division: 1st Paul Browne (Orewa) 2nd Mark Hoyle (Auckland) 3rd Rhys Fitt (Red Beach) 4th Stephen Sosich (Auckland) 

The event was made possible by the amazing support of the following people and businesses:  Geoff Gwynne and the team at McLeods Brewery, Kyle and Ali from Threadbox Mangawhai, Kyle from Fin Shui, Steve Morris from Morris Surfboards NZ, Dave from Bammas and Roger Hall from Surfline Custom Surfboards. Also thanks Mark from Fresh Mangawhai. 

To find out more, check out The Logger Heads FB Page HERE

And then you though it was all over in Mangawhai... well! 


Last Year's Winner Bowman Hansen


The actual designer and maker of the Mangawhai Bowl, Mister Jason Parkes, no one knows the bowl's lines better. 

The Mangawhai Bowl Jam 'should' be on this weekend. The weather may play havoc though. For updates check out the Facebook Page HERE

From The Book Store

What, you haven't got yours yet? Of the 1500 limited Editions printed there are less than 300 left, yep over 1200 went in 12 weeks!   - Just click in the image for a preview...and buying options.   

It Just Keeps Coming by craig levers


So straight up front, these are images are not my best work. And I'm not really sorry about that. The plan had been to take January off and get back into work with vigour in February. As it has turned out January was a GOOOOOD month to have a break and go surfing. If you missed the post I did [cos I couldn't help myself] with earlier pumping waves of Jan it's HERE 


Home just kept on delivering throughout January


My neighbour and fellow camper van nerd Dave Woods tucked under the cover


Another neighbour Riki Reinfeld... our street dominates the line up! 


See dominating... Riki gouging


And up the coast a bit further 


Luke Cederman during the filming of his latest edit on The Raglan Surf Report


Luke with his iPhone in a clip lock bag... you'll see what I mean if you watch his latest post. It's got a couple of pretty crazy selfies in it! 


Post selfie

On The Web

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I think it's a pretty big deal. Or maybe it is a good deal. Either way, for the next month this CPL image is the feature shot on Canon New Zealand's homepage. It is a cool deal that is a stoke, the monthly image is normally chosen by Canon of one of their pro's, I guess I do qualify as that seeing how I've used Canon cameras for 25+ years!  This image of course, is also starring on the shop front of Backdoor's mega shop in Barry's Point Road.


It was a good swim that evening :)  You can view the image in more detail HERE


This Weekend!!! 

Logger Heads 5 - 2018.jpg

The Mangawhai Logger Heads is back on this year, bigger and better, growing every year. I'll be there shooting away. Come hang out. 

Logger Heads 4 - 2017 Line Up.jpg

Last Year's line up

To find out more, check out The Logger Heads FB Page HERE


From The Book Store

What, you haven't got yours yet? Of the 1500 limited Editions printed there are 300 left, yep 1200 went in 12 weeks!   - Just click in the image for a preview...and buying options.   

West Coast Cranks For 2018 by craig levers

Already With 2018! 


There was no plan to start up the PhotoCPL E-Bombs so soon in 2018. You know, kind of chill give you all a break on your breaks. But the surf has been on the pump already this year, so what's a surf photog s'posed to do...after you've had your own fill of surfing of course. 


The open beaches have banks that have surprising held bigger swell. The 1st was really good, the 2nd a Raglan Day and then yesterday back to the beachies. 


Iain 'Ratso' Buchanan first on the peak and showing us young-uns how it is done as always.


Bruce Johnson finding form in the foam.


As always, AK weather, all 4 seasons in an arvo.


Rain...much! Dan Caley enjoying the shower, rinse combo. 


Dan post squall


Dan creating his own rain shower


And after the rain what happens??? 


Wave... tick. Lion...tick. Double rainbow...tick. 


Johnny Stokes and his new profile photo! 


In Print

 The Surfers Journal Spread

The Surfers Journal Spread

Big congratulations to one of the star contributors to The South Seas Book  Chris Garden. Gary just landed this double page spread in the latest Surfer's Journal... does this image look familiar? Well it should! It's the same one we swapped out and used in the South Seas Revised Edition. Nice to see our photo editing was on point.  When Gardy sent this through it was a no brainer that it was going to be a feature spread in the Revised Edition.

 The South Seas Revised Edition Spread

The South Seas Revised Edition Spread

And Not So Coincidentally

Logger Heads 5 - 2018.jpg

The Mangawhai Logger Heads is back on this year, bigger and better, growing every year. I'll be there shooting away. Come hang out! 

Logger Heads 4 - 2017 Line Up.jpg

Last Year's line up

To find out more, check out The Logger Heads FB Page HERE


From The Book Store

What? You haven't got yours yet!!!  - Just click in the image.  

The PhotoCPL Top 20 of 2017 by craig levers


Christmas carnage is all around, the roads are chocka, the malls are packed and stupid people are doing extra stupid things on your clear and correct efficient trajectory. But soon enough the chaos will be done and you'll be able to chill. And that's time we all reflect on the year that was. 

I'm getting in early. Here's a visual ...and most probably very lateral... photo essay of the year that was with what are my favourite images from 2017. In a roughly chronological order. 

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And here the rules of engagement are broken straight away. These images were actually shot in December 2016. But the Corona Campaign ran early 2017 so no one saw the photos 'til '17. It was a hard week's work but super rewarding because the client was stoked on the shots and that we [there most certainly was a team] actually pulled off a tough somewhat remote location. I ended up taking on the roles of location scout, production co-ordinator and photographer. First on the island, a week before the talent arrived, last off the island, properties, keys and props returned. 

Sean Boucher's biggest air at the 6th Annual Mangawhai Bowl Jam. Love being the shooter for the Bowl Jam! It's stinking hot, the concrete reflects the sun, there's no breeze at all because it's so packed, you're hustling for position, and then Sean goes and does this... are you f_ckening kidding me!!! So sick Sean, he didn't win the Jam, he came second to his close mate Bowman Hansen, but he did beat Bowman in the Biggest Air... and that would be this one right here. The Bowl Jam is on again this February. I'm be there, there's no place I'd rather be than coping-side. 

We had a shit summer for waves, there's no sugar coating it. It was crap. But there were moments... and yes 3 through to 6 are all from the same bank. But these were heavy swims and the waves were solid. These are stand outs for me because it was a real challenge to even get out the back and hold any type of position. This is Braedyn Louie, the shot went on to be used in Damaged Goods Zine. 

This one of AJ Matthews also made the DGZ cut. If this wasn't chronological it'd probably be sitting a lot higher than 4 for me.
The lads in DGZ

Bevan 'Napes' Wiig and I have a cursed shooting relationship. We're very good mates and we do surf a lot together. But man, for knowing and seeing how good Napes is for the last 20 years of friendship, the photo archive sure doesn't reflect that. We'll paddle out together, he'll snap his board, I'll get sucked down the beach in a rip, it'll go sea breezy... honestly, every fricken time. So this one's gold.... and yep he snapped the board two waves later...AGAIN! But this shot made the cut for NZ Surf The Collection Vol 1  in the feature I wrote about The Piha Village. 

Toby Dobson-Smith was paddling back out next to me. The set of the day came through, no one was out the back to catch any of them.  And in the set of the day there was Wave of the day, hell, wave of the year! The most perfectly formed 6 foot plus, grinding, spitting beast. It almost seemed un rideable; but it could have been. Toby and I were gobsmacked. There was nothing that could be said anyway. This is it. Straight to the Photo CPL Waves Gallery HERE it made the cut for The South Seas Revised Edition  and last month was made into a Primal Fish for the Legasea Auction, it was bought for $3,800.00. All proceeds to Legasea of course. 
We went camping. This year there has not been enough missions in the Chevy, and there's a good reason for that. Someone, who shall remain nameless, reversed at full speed in a wood truck into the parked Chevy. Because the parts came from the States the Cambulance as out of commission for four long, long gruelling months. Needless to say, we don't get wood deliveries from that chap anymore! But this was shot on an epic weekend at Waikawau Bay, my bro Kent and his missus Lucinda set up with their inflatable tent... just pure camp site porn right there... how good is that set up! 

The Campvibes take 2, and the most epic stag do ever! Me old mate Luke Darby managed to finally snag himself a goody [aye Jane!] and so we were forced to have a Stag Weekend. The call was made, The Far North. We scored sick waves on both coasts for four days. We were all in bed by 10pm every night! 
The last trip before the aforementioned catastrophe

Getting skunked at Shippies isn't all bad. I love the Picker Huts and have wanted to spend some time re-shooting them. Well, the swell we were chasing this next mission just never came so Picker Huts exploration it was. 2017 has been a different year shooting wise, off the back of getting The Big Little Beach Book out, which is landscape photography and switching to The South Seas and NZ Surf The Collection projects, it has all about surf and action shots. This was a super satisfying image to make.

Hashtag ishootfilm Hashtag realblackandwhite Hashtag Tmax100 Hashtag shootfilmstaypoor Hashtag 6x9

I do love shooting on film and 2017 has been a quiet year film wise, for all the reasons above. 2018 resolution; shoot more film. Shoot more grit... watch this space. 

The random wins! This was not an epic day, but it was fun as. I snapped off this shot of visiting Seppo Chris Lantz, hmmm I like it, ok I'll post it on Insty .... holy fricken shit! My most liked and shared shot on Insty ever. I don't think it's the best shot ever, but the caption was pretty good. It was about how Chris was ripping, but super respectful in the line up; if he got a bomb one set, he'd intentionally sit out the next set. He got his karma too, he got the best ...probably only barrel that day.  Respect to you Mr Lantz. 

The gorgeous Ange and I escaped to Samoa for my birthday, a number which does not need to be mentioned. The goal was to surf the birthday woes away. And I scored this wee nuggy of the reef pass almost every day for a week. One of the sessions was, for me, as good, fun and perfect as it gets . So this image represents a week of surfing fast, zippy barrels and desperately trying to clutch at the notion that I've still got it. [Never had it!] Love Samoa!  

click HERE to see bigger

And then this happened. A really good heavy bank on the Bar and a waterhousing configuration change [and a bit of practise to adapt for the change] This is the closest I've got to an image I've wanted for 25 years. I'm claiming it, it's the one I've been after. Here's the stinker though, a lot of locals still like this one better ... 
click HERE to see bigger

Tough audience huh! 
Last week the newbie got installed above the entrance of Backdoor Surf Barry's Point Road, Takapuna, 16 square metres of hugeness. So yeah defo in the top 20 huh! 

Hanging with Roger Hall is always a fun day. This day was a work day, shoot Roger in the Surfline Factory, in his habitat, maybe get some action and then interview him for NZ Surf Collection Vol 1 . The feature in the book came up really well, it's kind of a gnarly interview, pretty blunt and looking at a few old wounds. Josh, our graphic designer and Warren Hawke choose the last shot in the sequence to be included . I love the middle shot; love cross steps and the plank dance. 

Again not actually taken this year. But if you walk into your local Post Shop chances are this will be on the ad screens of sitting on the peg boards. This was a massive project with NZ Post, and I'm not going to lie, a bloody good payer. The First Day covers were released mid year. And it's the first time NZ Post have done NZ Surf Break Stamps. The $1 stamp was particularly good :) 
Home this Spring and one of the most north angled swells I can recall. It wasn't the biggest but it pumped for three days which is not usual. So this image is an emotional choice, 'cos north swells are such a treat. 

Dune Kennings on a northern treat. This shot is all about the angle and luck. Water photography is as much about the physical technique as it is photographic. So this one's me putting the camera in a different place. This one's a stoke maker to want to be in different places and give different angles. 

I thought this one was out of focus for a couple of days after, it was gutting, but then I checked it out properly at actual pixel depth. Corky is pin sharp in there. I shared it and Magic Seaweed picked it up as Shot Of The Day- chuffed. But this one's more of a stoker 'cos Corky charges whenever it's sizey and it's super cool that it's his Shot Of The Day.
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Last week... oh boy...last week was pretty epic. Another tough swim because when this place gets sizey so do its rips. Again this shot's an emotional choice, I haven't shot with Bobby Hansen for nearly a decade. 

And finally 20... that was harder than you'd think, and if you're still reading thank you for staying tuned. This did get posted in last week's E-bomb also. Straight off the bat there were a couple of requests for prints of it, so it's now the latest addition to the Waves Gallery HERE  so in a way, I haven't chosen #20, you guys did. Thank you for your patronage. 

That's probably the last E-bomb for 2017 fellas. It's been a full on year but a bloody good one for the PhotoCPL brand. Two big books smashed out and a lot of shooting in between. Next year... honestly...who knows, more roadies in the Chevy! More film shot and more swims with the waterhousing. 

Stay safe in the festive season!  


From The Book Store

What? You haven't got yours yet!!!  - Just click in the image.  

Going Eastside by craig levers


These are the days that get remembered. Sometimes for all the wrong reasons. We got super lucky, a dodgey battery failed on the jetski before we were parked up. Others weren't, 4 vessels were swamped and rolled, 2 sunk as the tide hit low and the swell really kicked. The swell got just a bit too big for paddling. But man, it's exciting to be a part of a swell like that, to put yourself in harm's way.


Last week's post  was bemoaning the long walk up the big sand dune. This week it is an equally demanding slog with the gear. It's part of the Copious Clothing  champaign, the brief is to shoot the clothing in a real environment, not a simulation of a surf mission, the real deal. So Cale organised team riders, Lee Ririnui, Harper McBride and Shaun Boucher for the shoot/s. 


The idea is the old school [and safer as it turned out!] approach. get dropped off at the corner and walk the beach to the peak. On the way capture the talent in a few garment swap outs, going through the real life experience of what a day like that entails. Course you gotta have swell right! 


Safe to say WE GOT SWELL!!! 


An iconic Kiwi surfing experience


Acid drops
Bobby Hansen and Leon Santorik split a peak .... 


Bobby and Johnny Hicks left Gizzy at 3.30 am to get the tide right. Mission accomplished. 


The swell picked up all day, it got too big for the first venue, wash throughs become consistent and this is when the boats got rolled. 2 skis and maybe 3 boats tumbled, 2 of those boats actually sunk, but were later retrieved. The owners got lucky, but at the same time, probably should not have moored where they did, it was clear the swell was on the rise and when low tide was. 

In the meantime other coasts were pumping too... 


Cale Tolley, my boss and art director for the day 


Cale in his very happy place


Matty Bennett holding down the lefts


Lee Ririnui; rail game 

 One of NZ's best skaters Shaun Boucher, doing a Bertelman  

One of NZ's best skaters Shaun Boucher, doing a Bertelman  


Griffo Junior doing man hacks 


Hods aka @inthedrink finishing the day on a high note before the mission back to the big smoke 


From The Galleries

You might see this image on display next time you walk into a NZ Post Shop. It's the cover shot of the NZ Post NZ Line Ups Stamp set. And that's Cale in the foreground.  

  Wanna see this image better or even order it for your home? - Just click in the image.  

Good Things by craig levers

This is my favourite image of far...I think. It'll probably change tomorrow. We used it in The South Seas Revised Edition, we included it in the exhibition at Sustainable Coastlines, it's on a few people's walls now. It glows when it's printed. It was such an incredible wave, one of the most perfect waves I've ever witnessed...anywhere.  

Primal Surfboards put my name forward to Simon Yates from LegaSea to be involved in a collaboration; to make a board to be auctioned, last week, at The Big Work Up LegaSea Gala Dinner. Turns out the Gala is quite a big deal. It was sold out a month beforehand. This is the board... 


It was auctioned and reached $3200.00. The winner got a free South Seas book too :) I s'pose this is the bit where I could be all cool and be like 'yeah, 'cos that's what my art is worth'  but c'mon who would that be kidding. There's some bloody good bastard out there who found their way to donate 3 grand to LegaSea. Chuffed to be a part of it, and chuffed at what an amazing job Primal did of applying the image to the board. 


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Old, very very old, mate Luke Darby is now in California representing NZ at the ISA Adaptive Surf Champs at La Jolla Shores. The bigger picture being that it will open the door for other Adaptive Kiwi surfers to follow suit in the Paralympics. Luke needed to raise 4G for flights and accomodation so in conjunction with Surfing New Zealand a Give A Little page was set up to get Luke to Cali. And you good buggers got him there!

You can follow his exploits on  he's going vlog updates daily, check it out. 

This Saturday 

Wondering what to do on Saturday, worried you'll be tooling around the house with nothing to do? Well come join us at the Surfline Summer Is In Session arvo.


We are decking out the factory with images that will be for sale on the day, it's a cool challenge to use the factory as an exhibition space. The emphasis is most certainly on CASUAL. It'll be fun, come along. 

Coming Up

... and then... Piha gets hammered. But in a good way. Saturday 9 December sees Jack Johnson once again descending on our fairest and wildest of shores. The good bugger is helping out with the Sustainable Coastlines Clean Up day. Check it out HERE

And the very same day Disabled Surfers Association are putting on a Have A Go Day... in the same carpark ....hmmmm somebody needs to be talking to somebody else huh! It'll all work out. Anyway, if you want to volunteer and be a helper ... which quite frankly is verging on a life changing/affirming thing check it out HERE

From The Galleries

Ahhh The Mount! Just got a order this image last night at 900mm wide. It's a familiar theme but it's such a stoke when a client orders the larger print options, primarily because at 900mm+ it is when the detail starts to really shine. Wanna see this image better or even order it for your home? - Just click in the image.