Dirty Deeds Done by craig levers

I was listening to the Ain't That Swell podcast the other day. It was the one about Surfing's greatest beefs and barnies. It is really good by the way. It got me thinking more nationally about some of the epic beefs and barnies I've been a part of and witness to.  
You see kiddies, what you read in the surf media is what you're meant to read and not all that goes on is reported. More often than not there's nothing wrong with the sanitised version.  Some things aren't fit to go in a magazine that is directed at highly impressionable tweens. The distance of time mellows the impact. Here's an example for you;

 Chrissy Malone at Rarawa for the Billabong Challenge late '90's about to take my scalp

Chrissy Malone at Rarawa for the Billabong Challenge late '90's about to take my scalp

Back in the late '90's Billabong NZ's Scott Casey came up with a concept event called the Billabong Challenge. It was a noble idea. In fact it was a bloody cool plan. Billabong NZ, straight after the Nationals, grabbed NZ's top rated surfers for an all expenses paid roady. The roady was premised with the idea that there would be a couple of rounds of heats run and then the winner would walk away with the cash prize. 
It was a forward thinking concept to break away from the standard competition format. And Scott readily admits it was based on Billabong's epic Desert Challenges in Western Oz. Remembering this was 20 years ago. 
Billabong also assisted members of the surf media to travel with the surfers to document the goings on. I was editing and shooting for the surf mag, so I was there. Some of the other media tag ons were pretty tenuous at best.  One such tag along was an Aussie cameraman who shall remain nameless. No one really knew just how he got on the gravy train, even Scott had no idea. But he seemed harmless enough. 
Billabong got everyone up to their Head Office where rental vans were waiting. From there the powers that be revealed the region where the surf would most likely be best for the next three days. We headed to the Far North. Billabong had block booked the Backpackers house in front of the Ahipara Bay Motel [it got demolished long ago for apartments]. 


As pictured the surfers are from left to right Emerson Tucker, Justin Souter, Ben Kennings, Mark Dovey, Blair Stewart, Andrew Robinson, Jos Kennings, Damon Gunness, Chris Malone and Daniel Kereopa.

Then you had the entourage which was made up of Judges, Billabong staff and that dodgey mix of media types I mentioned earlier. In all there were over 20 of us in the spacious Backpackers house. Everyone had beds, but a couple of the tag alongs were on fold-outs the living room. 
The surf didn't quite pan out as Scott had hoped. We were lured by the promise of epic east swell and both Rarawa and Hendo's being on the cook. BUT there were fun waves and there was a job to do.
Lion Red was the official beer of everything surfing in NZ then. This meant for anyone in the industry all you had to do was put up your hand and Lion Red would courier out a pallet of red cans.
The scene set. A group of twenty young men away from their homes with free accomodation, food and booze. With no early start or much pressure. It was only natural that the handbrake was well and truly off come Saturday night.  We had a bender of stellar proportions. 
As the evening progressed the Aussie Cameraman started recounting tales of dirty deeds done to his mates back home. Boldly boasting about his tally of scalps and eyebrows he'd claimed from passed out friends. We've all done it, or worst still, been the victim.
It's all a bit vauge.  At some point he started explaining in great detail how you should only ever shave off the inside half of a brow. It's a double banger. First the victim has to deal with the new man-scaping. Then they have to come to grips with the fact they are going to have the shave off the outside half to even it up. It's actually pretty brilliant. 
As the night continued the twang of the Aussie's voice faded. Much to everyone's surprise, he'd tucked himself into bed, in the large living room... in the middle of the party. 
If it wasn't my idea, I apologise to the ring leader. After such a detailed tirade and highlighting that you should never pass out at a party. Here was our Aussie gatecrasher doing exactly what he boasted not to do. Mark Dovey found a razor blade, Ben Kennings got the shaving foam and I found the Aussie's video camera. Which I think was a masterstroke.  
As per the Aussie's description we made our own little documentary on his camera about the art of brow work. To this date I think Mark Dovey has missed his calling as a TV presenter.  
Job done, we took off both inside brows.  Lots of Lols and Rofos all around the crowded living room. 
I can't recall the Aussie's reaction in the morning, we were in a rush to get up to Rarawa. The swell was good, but the banks weren't great. It was a fun 2-3 foot. There was work to do and someone was going to win some cash and bragging rites. 
I swam out with the camera and got nothing, caught in shitty rips and not lining up anyone with the shifting peaks. Luckily I'd shot the shot of Chrissy Malone on the Friday evening straight after the drive up. Blair Stewart won, which was a worry 'cos his Dad Doug was the judge. But in fairness I think Doug was actually being harder on Blair as an over compensation. 
There was a bit of controversy over the criteria. Doug, who was NZ's Head Judge at the time, had been very vocal about his dislike of airs. Yes, that is right, in the late '90's the ASP criteria deemed airs non functional manoeuvres! 
In a flip, for this event Scott had made it clear innovation was to be rewarded. Blair won by doing some massive fin wafts. The controversy was that some of the other guys didn't believe Doug could actually judge innovation so they stuck to rail game. 
The comp was over, it had been a big day in the sun, up the north end of Rarawa Beach. We were assembled back at the car-park by the stream and Ben Kennings was tee'ing off. Someone had shat inside his brand new Oakley shoes. It was disgusting, apart from ruining his new kicks, the rental van had been marinating the stench all arvo. Then Mark Dovey went to put his Dirty Dog Sunnies on, he stopped, sniffed and realised just before putting them on the arms were coated in poo. Mark was beyond livid.  Everyone was in shock... everyone except the Aussie who was rolling around in laughter on the ground. 

No one else... and I mean no one, saw the humour in spreading human defecate over some one's gear. The Aussie's retaliation was akin to answering a firecracker with a neutron bomb. The red mist descended on Mark. The big problem being that no one felt like stopping Mark from thumping the Aussie. 
The Aussie tried to justify his actions, it only made things heavier. By this stage Mark was standing over the Aussie who was cowering in the dirt. He tried to stand up and I warned him to stay down. There was no doubt that if he had stood up Mark would have put him back down. It was really heavy. The Aussie tried to apologise, but no one was having a bar of it. Eventually Mark's anger dissipated enough for him walk away. The only thing that saved the Aussie from a beating was that he stayed on the ground.  
Now, you can criticise all of us in this little tale for a number of actions. We all could have been more responsible at different junctures. But we didn't, the hand brake was off and we were having a good time...until we weren’t. To this day I have no idea why the Aussie didn’t implicate the person, ie ME, who was filming the whole incident on his camera- the very evidence he used to identify Ben and Mark. And trust me at the time I did a very intensive audit of my own gear. I always felt stink that Ben and Mark got nailed and I escaped the ....ummm.... shit storm.  

From The Bookstore


All Photo CPL Books are printed with soy based inks [no toxic petros] The Printers are FSC, ISO 9001 and 14001 environmental certified. And The South Seas Revised Edition most certainly a product of that. Over 80% of the images are changed from the original edition- it really is a different book. Check it out and buy it HERE  

The New Venture by craig levers


We've made an ethical T-shirt. Well, that's not entirely accurate, we've made five, and we didn't actually weave the garment or sew the seams. 

'We' is Cale Tolley, the founder of Copious Apparel  and I. We've been good mates for over twenty years and worked on different stuff together over that time, including shoots for Copious. 

The idea of Trophy Tees has been knocked around for a couple of years now. There are other Kiwi souvenir T's out there, some really good ones too. But it was an idea that just didn't go away. So we've finally done it. 


See what we've done here; Lee Ririnui sporting the Mount Dusk One Tee at the actual spot the image on the Tee was taken 


Mount Dusk Two Tee

I dunno if the buyers of Trophy Tees will care if the garments are ethical, but we do. The T shirts are made overseas, but the factory used is audited and has WRAP and Oeko-Tex Certification. Ok, fancy sounding - could mean anything right. 

WRAP is the world’s largest independent factory-based social compliance certification programme for the sewn products sector. It's 12 Principles cover: compliance with local laws, prohibition of forced labour, child labour, discrimination, harassment or abuse, compensation and benefits, hours of work, health and safety, freedom of association, environment, customs compliance, security. WRAP provides for at least annual unannounced audits, which include allowance for off-site employee interviews. From this, corrective action plans are put in place as well as follow-up audits to resolve any non-compliance before certification is awarded.

Oeko-Tex, very basically, means the materials used in the garment are non toxic, no dodgey stuff like Azo colourants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium or nickel are used. Don't have the Oeko-Tex Certification, well, do you really want any of that crap rubbing on you?

Added to these certifications our garment supplier is committed to traceability of the cotton used, which means the cotton ethically farmed. 


The Mount Tube One Tee  proving to be the most popular one so far


Mount Tube Two Tee  the whole picture

Fit and Quality. It's all fine and dandy having your social conscience eased, but the garment has to fit well and last. It could have the best graphic in the world on it, but if it fits weird or wears out fast, well, that's just a waste of everyone's time.

Our Tees are a regular fit, crew neck. It's  heavy weight, 200 GSM 100% carded cotton. With neck ribbing [the neck will retain its shape well]  side seamed, shoulder to shoulder tape, double needle hems and preshrunk to minimise shrinkage. Both Cale and I know what makes a Tee a favourite is how it feels and fits. 

NZ Collage tee.jpg

The New Zealand Tee in white

This week Trophy Tees first orders were shipped out to the North Beach Nationwide, Backdoor Mount and Papamoa stores. We timed the launch of the Trophy Tee website and social networks to the deliveries... she's been a few big weeks!  
I've got some favours to ask; even if you don't want a Trophy Tee yourself, help us get the name out there. LIKE the Trophy Tee page and [ideally] SHARE it on your own home page or even share it with a couple of friends you think may like the Tees. The Facebook Page is HERE 

Please check out the Trophy Tee's website, where of course you can enjoy the convenience of ordering your Tees direct from the very device you're in front of now. 


From The Bookstore 


It's not just the Tees that are ethically minded. All Photo CPL Books are printed with soy based inks [no toxic petros] The Printers are FSC, ISO 9001 and 14001 environmental certified. And The South Seas Revised Edition most certainly a product of that. Over 80% of the images are changed from the original edition- it really is a different book. Check it out and buy it HERE  

Man Down by craig levers


Quite bizarrely  the New Zealand Press recently went through a cycle of not talking or reporting on Suicides. It is actually an epidemic amongst Kiwi males. The idea about not reporting or tackling the subject publicly was that any talk of suicide highlighted the action and any focus on it would simply draw those inclined to it as a possibility.

Clearly I do not agree with this sentiment. I believe that open, honest discussions help educate and inform. Sticking your head in the sand and pretending it doesn't happen is ridiculous. The dictate of silence didn't reduce the rate of suicide in NZ. The rate has increased. 

As of Friday I've lost 7 friends to suicide [and as I do this audit I realise there's more]. I have not lost 7 mates in car accidents, airplane crashes, Aids, Cancer or Sharks.

I had written a piece about the friend who passed last Friday, I wanted to honour him and I wanted his tragic decision to be a call out to other friends- don't do it. It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But just before pressing the send button I did my dues. I found out that the family have told his young children a different story for the meantime. That has to be respected. 

Almost a month to the date Hannah Norton's open letter to NZ Men was published by the Herald. I implore you to take seven minutes to read it HERE 

If you are thinking even remotely this is an option for you, ring me, lets talk.

For Alf, Troy, Matt B, Matt H, TK, Bob and now Friday's- You were loved. You are fondly remembered forever.    

Flying Kiwis by craig levers

 Ratty and his quiver a few years back... Keyhole Boardriders REPRESENT.

Ratty and his quiver a few years back... Keyhole Boardriders REPRESENT.

It has been a busy old week for New Zealand Surfing on the Internationally.  Reigning World Grand Master Champion Iain 'Ratso' Buchanan has been in the Azore Islands defending his title. And the New Zealand Team has been in Japan competing at the ISA World Surfing Games

 Rat in the Azores. Image care of WSL

Rat in the Azores. Image care of WSL

Ratty didn't do so well in the Round Robin round.  In his first heat he was beaten by Australian Rob Bain. In his second heat Australian Glen Winton got the highest scored wave of the event, a 9.25. Ratty's 7.17 and 6.13 would have seen him win just about any other heat in that round. Without a win Ratty will not proceed to the next rounds. 

 Paige on a tear in Japan. Photo Ben Reed/ISA

Paige on a tear in Japan. Photo Ben Reed/ISA

In Japan the news is similar.  We didn't send our strongest team with Kehu Butler, Rik Christie, Elliot Paerata Reid and Ella Williams all having prior commitments. But there is a shinning glimmer of hope with Paige Hareb dominating the women's division. An in form Paige has cruised into round 3 with the highest women’s heat total of 15.37. Her single wave score of 9 points was the highest of the women’s competition thus far.

Looks like we are in for a few laydays in Japan, but you can check in to the ISA website HERE 


It's not all doom and gloom on the world scene for our flying Kiwis. Last month Kehu won the World Surf League Oceania Junior QS. This means he'll be representing Oceania at the World Junior Champs early 2019.  EPR is on a bit of a roll in Indonesia, making the finals at both the West Sumbawa WQS [Third Winner according to the winners Cheque :)].  And an ever so close 2nd at the Simeule Pro. 

From The Bookstore 


All this chat about waves overseas, wha'd'bout some good Kiwi waves! The South Seas Revised Edition is still available. Over 80% of the images are changed from the original edition- it really is a different book. Check it out and buy it HERE  

The Where And The How In South Sumatra by craig levers

I'm back from an excellent and all too brief 14 days in Indonesia. So this week's post is a travelogue that could inspire you to booking that surf trip. It isn't as expensive as you may think. 

 Ujung Bocur at dawn

Ujung Bocur at dawn

There were 5 of us and our surfing experience ranged from only 18 months to 40 years. There are pros and cons in travelling in a group, the obvious pros being costs spread and great times shared.  Out of the 14 days there were 10 days of surfing. 4 days were lost to travelling, because we went to South Sumatra. For me, all up the 14 days only cost $2,700. 

 L to R... yep Me, Barton Strom, The one and only Sam 'Calfy' Ryan, Hayden Strom and Brent Alexander

L to R... yep Me, Barton Strom, The one and only Sam 'Calfy' Ryan, Hayden Strom and Brent Alexander

Here's the breakdown with all prices in New Zealand dollars; 
Air New Zealand return economy flights $1214.00. We got a pretty good special, but I had to add another bag for camera gear.  It's an 8 hour flight so we all opted into the 'works' which means a couple of meals. Air NZ now offer direct flights to Bali. In 1991 the same return flight was $900.00 return.
We had a night in Bali before getting our internal flights to Sumatra. We choose to stay close to Denpasar Airport in Uban and in very nice suites, which cost $44 inc breakfast. 
The internal flights with Sriwijaya Air were $150.00 return. This was Bali to Jakarta Java, Jakarta to Bandar Lampung Sumatra. Our luggage was checked through from Bali to Bandar Lumpung and we paid an extra $50.00 [10 each] for excess baggage.  The first flight was 1.40 hours, the second flight 40 minutes. 

 Damai's main building/bar/dinning common area

Damai's main building/bar/dinning common area

At Bandar Lampung we were picked up by two vans provided by Damai Bungalows, which is where we stayed for 9 nights. The vans were newish and comfortable, but the drive from Bandar Lampung to Ujung Bocur in the Krui region is 5-6 hours. Without doubt this is the most unpleasant part of the travels. 
Damai cost $600.00 for the 9 nights. This included the return transfers, twin shared rooms, three meals a day and surf guide legend Dedi. Damai is owned and run by a classic Novacastrian Aussie ex-pat Jas. It's small, there are 6 simple losemans, the food, staff and service is excellent. Damai is at the top end of Ujung Bocur, near the paddle out keyhole. As you can see from the images the communal area is totally orientated to the view of the Point. 

 pretty shit view aye!

pretty shit view aye!

 Barton on his hog

Barton on his hog

We hired scooters with surfboard racks for 8 days at $6.50 per day. 
The only other costs were drinks [tea and coffee is free] . I was going through 2-3 litres of water a day, plus a mixed juice or two per day. So my bar bill came to a staggering $28.00. Hayden was at the other end of the spectrum racking up a $180.00 bar bill.... that's for 8 days!  

The Waves

The main reason we opted for Krui is that there are a lot of set ups. We didn't surf every wave there is, and there's a bunch of set ups that work in the rainy season as well. But here's my take of the sets ups we experienced. 
Ujung Bocur 


The left hand point break out in front. It is incredibly consistent. Breaking through all tides and handling most swings of wind. The Point is often compared to Raglan, and I reckon that's fair, sort of a hybrid of Indys and Manu. While it does provide the odd barrelling section, it's more a fast wall that provides lots of sections to hit. It's a long wave that can offer rides well over 200 metres. It is the go to, and most of the accommodation is scattered down the Point so it does get crowded. The key phrase here is INCREDABLY CONSISTENT.  At 6-8 foot the wave tends to push wide of the point. 

 Calfy found his own right at Ujung

Calfy found his own right at Ujung

  Yeah Calfy, who is number 1!

Yeah Calfy, who is number 1!

Way Jambu [Samatran Pipe] 


Way Jambu is a 20 minute scooter trip to the south. As the name suggests it's not for the timid. On the right direction swell Way Jambu will handle any size thrown at it. Last year Lynden Kennings tackled it at what the locals are now calling 15 foot. At over 8 foot there is a [sort of] roll in take off before the wave hits the Pipe section. It's a heavy, heavy wave with a slabbing barrel.  It breaks from about 3 foot up.

 8 foot Pipe, trust me, it is 8 foot!

8 foot Pipe, trust me, it is 8 foot!

Mandiri Beachies

 Yeah yeah there were waves at Mandiri, but how rad is this old Honda!

Yeah yeah there were waves at Mandiri, but how rad is this old Honda!

Just to the north of Ujung Bocur is a long strip of sandy beach that is very exposed to any swell. When there is 'no swell' or Ujung Bocur is 1-2 foot, then the beachies come alive with options. Earlier this year Elliot Paerata-Reid scored them at 6 foot plus and he rates them as the best beachies in Indo. While we were there the beaches had been nailed by the big Nias swell the month before. The fellas still had three really fun dawnies finding some rights for a change. 
The Peak

 Short and sharp- the Peak at optional size

Short and sharp- the Peak at optional size

About 30 minutes north of Ujung Bocur is The Peak. To be honest it's more of a novelty wave than anything. But it can provide a pretty damn good room with a view- it's just a very short stay. It turns into a fat roll in at anything over 5 foot, but at 4 foot there's a great little technical peak to sneak under. To the left of the Peak there is a bend in the reef that often provides a really good but shallow left. 
Krui Lefts

 Sorry, I failed on taking a snap of Krui lefts at 1 foot... but this is the main drag of Krui Town

Sorry, I failed on taking a snap of Krui lefts at 1 foot... but this is the main drag of Krui Town

Krui is the main town, which is 40 minutes scooter ride north from Ujung Bocur. Rather disparaging slanged off as Cowards Corner. The left reef in town needs a lot of swell to get in. If Ujung Bocur is 6 foot, it'll probably be 2-3 foot. It's crowded with locals and beginners and because of this very hazardous for your health. 

 Brent at Jimmy's Right

Brent at Jimmy's Right

 Jimmy's spit

Jimmy's spit


40 minutes to an hour is about the range you'd want to do on a scooter.  You wanna preserve your energy for tackling waves not dodging Indo lorrys. About 1.40 hours north of Ujung Bocur is Jimmy's Rights and lefts. We opted for the vans which cost us $15 dollars each for the day. Trade winds are cross-shore so it's a 4am start to be there for dawn.

Jimmy's Right is fun at 3-4, and full on from there up. It's a barrel. The take off is steep but very doable.  You backdoor the section that most likely will stay open giving you a clean exist before the wave bends onto near dry reef. In other words, don't think you're gonna get a turn in. Get in, get out. 

 Meanwhile, across the bay... and not Jimmy's Left.

Meanwhile, across the bay... and not Jimmy's Left.

Jimmy's Left


A very heavy deep water reef. If the rights are 4-5 ft then the lefts are 6-8 ft. The swell comes out of deep water and slabs up onto the reef with Hawaiian/Tahitian thickness. 

 Below sea level and thick

Below sea level and thick

This is the End

Because a new swell was coming, we pushed our flights back to Bali another day. Changing the flights was pretty easy. Back in Bali we had one night in a palace of a place booked via Air B'n'B which was $80 each per night including breakfast. The palace had 5 double bedrooms all with ensuites, 3 kitchens, large gardens and a swimming pool. The main bedroom had an internal pool. Here's the link to it 

The Acid Test


Would I go back to Krui? There is no would in it. I am going back! A part from quality surf, South Sumatra was a wonderful adventure in Indonesian culture. It’s often described as what Bali was like in the 90’s. My first 6 week stay in Bali was in 1991, I would argue that South Sumatra is like what Bali was in the ‘80’s, and all the best possible ways. The locals are wonderfully friendly and helpful. The extra travel and that brutal 5 hour drive help keep Krui somewhat a mission. Here’s to it staying that way.  


From The Bookstore


All this chat about waves overseas, wha'd'bout some good Kiwi waves! The South Seas Revised Edition is still available. Over 80% of the images are changed from the original edition- it really is a different book. Check it out and buy it HERE  

Salamat Pagi From Krui by craig levers

 Sumatran Pipe-shallow and sharp

Sumatran Pipe-shallow and sharp

I'm writing to you from Krui, which is in the south of Sumatra, Indonesia. I'm traveling with 4 other Kiwi surfers; Brent Alexander, Sam 'Calfy' Ryan and the Strom brothers, Barton and Hayden. We're half way through our most excellent adventure.  And it is excellent. 

At this juncture of the adventure there was a hope/expectation that this post would be filled with stunning first hand accounts of surfing prowess. Sadly [or maybe luckily for you] this is not the case. The wave quota, thus far, stands at 5 rides. 5 very medicore rides at that. Just over a month ago I tore my hamstring, and while the recovery had gone well, standing on a wave is too painful. 

This surfing trip has defaulted to a photography trip. To be really honest it is gutting. But what can you do, there's no point in dwelling on what should have been. I'm lucky that I have the cameras to fall back on, a secondary passion. 

So rather than bleat on too much about what's been going on here's a visual account. Next week there'll be a full wrap up of the hows and whys. 

 First evening in Kuta before the transit flights and 5 hour drive to Krui

First evening in Kuta before the transit flights and 5 hour drive to Krui

 Yum, Padang

Yum, Padang

 The two connecting flights went pretty well, the boards arrived in Sumatra at the same time as us

The two connecting flights went pretty well, the boards arrived in Sumatra at the same time as us

 Now for a mellow drive through rain and flooded roads for five hours in 3rd gear 

Now for a mellow drive through rain and flooded roads for five hours in 3rd gear 

 The pay off

The pay off

 Barton firmly focussed on Hayden's next dart

Barton firmly focussed on Hayden's next dart

 When it rains around these parts you'll know it

When it rains around these parts you'll know it

 Early morning reef blurs 

Early morning reef blurs 

 Brent Alexander lining up the section at Pipe 

Brent Alexander lining up the section at Pipe 

 The Pipe's room with a view 

The Pipe's room with a view 

 The local lads 

The local lads 

 The peak in fine form

The peak in fine form

 Calfy between sets  

Calfy between sets  

 Hayden in the happy place 

Hayden in the happy place 

 Our guide and local photographer Dedi, check out his instagram   @dedilock

Our guide and local photographer Dedi, check out his instagram @dedilock

 Out in front 

Out in front 

 According to the speedo I'm a pretty slow rider 

According to the speedo I'm a pretty slow rider 

 Fair to say from where we'd all rather be 

Fair to say from where we'd all rather be 

 Pipe doing its thing. Tomorrow the swell jumps 4x in size. Ok, big boy pants on

Pipe doing its thing. Tomorrow the swell jumps 4x in size. Ok, big boy pants on

Big Month by craig levers

Warning; introspective and highly opinionated dribble may follow.

I've been immersed in the surf industry for the last 30 years. This has included working in surf shops and factories, but mainly it has been on the media side of things. Making magazines, editing websites, probably most significantly now making New Zealand surf books for the last 10 years. As a Kiwi surfer there is always an internal conflict, an irony if you like, about being a part of the commercial side of surfing. 

The overwhelming theme on the commercial side of surfing is always to grow the sport. The industry rationale being; if more people are surfing, you have more people to sell your wares to, you make more money, you get to go surfing more. And that's the conflict, as Kiwi surfers we are collectively selfish bastards. We want less surfers in the water so we can each get more waves. 

I've been a part of industry meetings about growing the exposure and popularity of surfing in New Zealand. For a long time the focus was on getting airtime on TV. To be honest, even during those meetings, in part being a stills photographer, a producer of print based media, but probably more importantly a selfish surfer, I felt shitty in those strategy meetings. I never shared the vision that surfing should be as big as rugby. I don't want surfing to be as big as rugby. I love surfing and it's counterculture because it ISN'T rugby. I find it weird that while surfing is proud of it's outsider and staunchly individualistic stance, many within the community crave mainstream amalgamation. 

This is probably a generational thing. While now as an older surfer I celebrate our former bad assery, and being alternative, the generations of surfers after mine don't share that rebellion against the norm. 

 The famous Windensea board riders circa '60s

The famous Windensea board riders circa '60s

To hammer home the point, or maybe over dwell on it. The first wave of modern surfers in the '50's-60's were gnarly. To commit yourself to living a surf lifestyle was to be regarded being a drop out and a loser. Time and Life magazines compared Surfing culture to Hells Angels and Junkies. Surfers celebrated this, Miki Dora famously sported Iron Crosses and Swastikas on his boards- surfers were NOT neo nazis, it was to be shocking. 

Every era of surfers rebel against the previous. The long haired, Morning Of the Earth era was a reaction to the first competition era of surfing. My New Wave/Echo Beach/Punk 80's era was a rebellion against that soul surfer era. The old fossils wore black wetsuits and clear white boards, we embraced short spiked hair, flouro panels and bright sprayed twin fins and thrusters. Surfing was so rebellious, it even rebelled against itself.     

 Just fricken orrrrsum :) 

Just fricken orrrrsum :) 

Surfing does not translate well to mainstream at the best of times anyway. We get pigeonholed as Spicoli like stoners throwing down shakas and speaking a quaint perversion of english. To be fair we don't help ourselves much in this regard. It's ironic that our dialect that is mocked is also stolen so often. 'Stoked' is now mainstream, 'Sick' is now used by non surfers as meaning good.

Over the last few weeks surfing in New Zealand has had a lot of that airtime so craved in the boardroom meetings of the late '90's. 

 When EPR's advert first aired a few weeks back he was doing this

When EPR's advert first aired a few weeks back he was doing this

The Positive one; Piha's very own golden child, well man now, Elliot Paerata-Reid's anti Drink Drive advert aired. The advert also features another Piha surfer Chris Baron. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 11.43.04 AM.jpg

This advert uses our surf culture well to get the message across. It's humorous but somewhat knowledgable e.g; using EPR and Chris, filming around Raglan, giving it a weight of authenticity.

Watch the ad HERE

The Neutral One

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Last week's, or should that be weak's, episode of Jono and Ben featured comedian Chris Parker's regular skit based on the Chris's camp adventures into straight life. The skit featured Luke Cederman which was the good bit. Even though Chris observed as it is offensive to the LGBT community when straight people camp it up, so a non surfer trying act Surfie is offensive... i;e looks stupid. He proceeded down this track. I realise it's comedy, I realise the stereotype exists and hell, nothing should sacred. But the comedian didn't explore the theme, his own skit's premise, it was a shame there wasn't more interaction with Luke. Oh well. 

The Not SOOO Bad

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Now, I'm going on the record here as stating I'm a massive fan of Kehu Butler, the whole Butler Whanau for that matter. I was stoked to see Kehu join the desk on The Project this last Tuesday evening. But THAT BEANIE....bro, Red Bull overload, was it the brand placement needed? The interview got off to a rocky start, but Kehu found his feet in the back half with some quick off the cuff replies. In the end, Kehu came across as the intelligent young athlete he is.  

In Other Media... 

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Speaking of Luke Cederman, his latest Podcast is available now. Funny as, as you'd expect. Thanks to everyone that's given me feedback about The Raglan Surf Pod Cast Ep4, it was super fun doing it.  

You can listen to the new Raglan Surf Report Podcast Ep5  HERE

From The Galleries


Can you believe this image was made 18 years ago! It's pretty much now the PhotoCPL classic huh. Last week native Piharians the Hattons got this bewty for their new Waterview home. Stoked to help make their new home feel more like home.  

Check Out PIHA BLUE HERE.... if you want to :) 

Next Level Dawnies by craig levers

  Jesse Peters and Brent Alexander on the Dawn Patrol

Jesse Peters and Brent Alexander on the Dawn Patrol

Are you fricken kidding me! Why would any sane person get up at 3.45 am in the middle of winter to be at a beach 3 hours later...for dawn. It's insane, it's crazy, normal people don't do things like this. Surfers use terms like crazy and insane to colourfully describe things that are excellent or very good. I believe this reflects on our collective mindset as surfers. We get excited about sleep deprivation so we can then possibly injure ourselves and certainly induce mid doses of hyperthermia. We're a bit twisted, this is not normal behaviour. It confirms we are out of step with the general populace. 

 Darren Celliers excitedly readying himself for a hypothermic dip

Darren Celliers excitedly readying himself for a hypothermic dip

 Dawn hues and why we do stupid things

Dawn hues and why we do stupid things

 Taylor Hutchison, dementedly joyous for a fellow that left Raglan at 5am

Taylor Hutchison, dementedly joyous for a fellow that left Raglan at 5am

 Jesse and Taylor. Ok, Ok, it does look like a good place to be

Jesse and Taylor. Ok, Ok, it does look like a good place to be

 Just like the Clash song... look to the left

Just like the Clash song... look to the left

 ...then look to the right

...then look to the right

 Jesse drawing first blood on a Burleigh-eske fold

Jesse drawing first blood on a Burleigh-eske fold

 Taylor's first

Taylor's first

 The right place to be

The right place to be

 Muriwai resident Darren found the curl a fair bit yesterday

Muriwai resident Darren found the curl a fair bit yesterday

 Taylor's wave of the day, even builders on the construction site behind the beach downed tools and cheered this one on

Taylor's wave of the day, even builders on the construction site behind the beach downed tools and cheered this one on

 Jesse made a pig of himself

Jesse made a pig of himself

 Happy Jesse

Happy Jesse

 The look of a crazy person

The look of a crazy person

 Surfboard shaper Noe Birdler sniffing out the lefts

Surfboard shaper Noe Birdler sniffing out the lefts

 Me ol' mate Dan Davie joined the frey for a break between sanding boards

Me ol' mate Dan Davie joined the frey for a break between sanding boards

 Good to see Dan on the correct side of the lens for a change

Good to see Dan on the correct side of the lens for a change

Would I get up at 3.45 in the middle of winter to sit in a car for 3 hours, then stand on a beach for 4 hours, only to jump back in the same vehicle for the return trip? Everytime, anytime... well maybe not the day straight after. I'm just as crazy as the rest of us. 

In Other News


Thanks again to Dave Swan at Smorgasboarder for reviewing The Collection Vol 1 this current issue. Last issue The South Seas Revised Edition was featured. Smorgasboarder is distributed throughout New Zealand and Australia via surf stores. But you can also read it online via the hyperlink above. I know you know what a hyperlink is.

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From The Bookstore  


Yes indeedy, NZ Surf The Collection Vol 1  IS a limited edition and there are now only 109 left in stock. They'll be gone first round of season change shop orders for sure. Have you got your copy yet, or just have no clue what I'm banging on about? Well click here to get through to the book's web page. 

Drunk Children, stabbings and the lack of mongrelism by craig levers

On Tuesday Luke Cederman and I sat down to do a Raglan Surf Report Podcast. It was super fun, as always Luke and I got yarning and no doubt went off on tangents. Yesterday the Podcast went live and already people are letting me know they think it's pretty funny. So without getting into the soul searching and the internal worrying of having a voice most certainly more suited to writing than being heard on podcasts. Here's the Podcast in Video form ....

Just click on the image above.

Orrrrrrr alternatively if you want to open it in your Podcast app click HERE

From The Bookstore


Yes indeedy, NZ Surf The Collection Vol 1  IS a limited edition and there is only 190 left in stock. They'll be gone first round of season change shop orders for sure. Have you got your copy yet, or just have no clue what I'm banging on about? Well click here to get through to the book's web page. 

Kehu Wins and Insty Wins by craig levers

Yesterday Was A Big Day

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Our very own Kehu Butler just won the Skullcandy Oz Grom Open 2018 at Lennox Beach. The win moves him up to second in the ratings for the WSL Men's Junior Oceania Qualifying Series... now that there is a convoluted series name. It means he's in the top bracket for the Junior Series that's run in our part of the world. Kehu is now looking likely for a spot to contest the junior world championships. The top four surfers in each of the five regions (Oceania, North America, Africa, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti Nui) qualify for a chance to be named junior world champion early in 2019. 

Here is the Herald report on Kehu's Win. 

Of course this is the bit where Wazza Hawke and I get to say 'Told Ya So!' 


We featured Kehu on the opening spread of NZ Surf; The Collection Vol 1's chapter Coming Through- the next generation. 

A part from Kehu's inherent talent, and that is quite literal, the rad thing about him is his whanau support. His Dad Khan and Mum Donna have put awesome systems in place. 


Khan, most definitely leading by example. 


Kehu quite a few swells ago at his local, well in the shade


Another of The Collection Vol 1 spreads featuring Kehu

Earlier this month Kehu was also selected as part of the 2018 NZ Team for the World Surfing Games in Japan this September. In my opinion, it is the strongest team we've ever sent... well selected...they haven't been sent yet. It's the first time in a LONG time our top international surfers have been available for selection. It's all part of the build up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Of course this does mean, if we're sending our absolute best, so is every other surfing nation. It's gonna be fun to watch come September. 


Want to know more about the team? Well here's the SNZ Page all about it  

Before Kehu Won yesterday I had a plan to share my top 5 'not first person' Instagram Accounts.

What I mean by this is accounts that aren't set up as personal ones, or like mine more intended to show the images being made. I've gone from being a massive fan of Instagram to being quite disheartened about it. I started in 2012 on the app and back then I loved how it connected me to other Film shooting photographers around the world, I loved that I could follow photographers I've admired for decades, that they were still current and posting. But Insty has come a long way since those early days. I think the Facebook buy out was the start of the rot, and then successive roll out of algorithm changes that mean you no longer see everyone's posts, and now only the most popular posts. A lot of the film photographers I started following and connecting with have left the app. I'm staying, but now I see it more as a entertaining distraction. And with that in mind, here's my current top 5 accounts...

1. Surf Core 2001

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The absolute best photo captions you will EVER read fullstop  here's an example;

surfcore2001Spring 2001: 14 days of Nor-East winds. Southsides banks are dogshit. Waters fucken freezing, winds fucken hot. Turgid slop. Old boys do endless mainies of the esplanade, hunting the mirage; the bank the next bank up. VL commies let out disgruntled groans as they fishtail out of the carpark. The colony of groms that inhabit the Surf Club shorey have all been lacerated by the bluebottles. The east coast is blanketed by these stingy little cunce. Weeping sores drenched in Bi-Lo vinegar. Everyone’s having a shit time. Bushfire and pub-brawl dials are both on “Extreme”. I’m on the tin roof of a Queenslander. I clean out the gutters for pocket money. Rotting leaf matter removal, one handful at a time. I put a Sunk Loto CD in my DiscMan and get to work. My Eggy Step-Dad is up there too. High Pressure gurney, trying to help me. His shit aim accidentally wets a territorial Magpie. Game on. She swoops. She barbs him. He trips. Gurney slides off the apex of the roof and sideswipes me. I fall past the verandah, fall 2 storeys onto pavement. Black. Foggy. I see an apparition. Visions of TC knifing under the lip during the 97 G-land Pro. The words “ZAAHHH” appear in the haze. Day-glo patterns. plumes of spray. TC speaks to me “Come back, core disciple, you must spread the word’. Monasterial chanting. the Surfers of Fortune symbol. Cryptic! Suddenly I come back. White light. The paramedic holds me down “don’t move your neck boy”. Im on a stretcher “lucky you had the Gath on…coulda died”. Ill never forget that spiritual apparition…heres @thomasvictorcarroll, doing some high pressure gutter maintenance of his own.


2. The History Of Punk

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Some of the most random and fascinating images drawn from archives all around the globe with great snippets of Punk history. Love IT! 

3. Kook Of The Day 

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Such a good waster of time! Feeling blue? Need a bit of a self esteem boost at the expense of others? - Well this account is for you! 

4. Kook Slams  

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1.1 million of us can't be wrong can we? Much in the same vein as Kook Of The Day, everyone loves a blooper right! 

5. Aperture Foundation 

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Awesome inspiring work from the world's leading photographers. Aperture Foundation is a great portal to finding great photographers and beautiful work. 

From The Bookstore


Yes indeedy, the aforementioned NZ Surf The Collection Vol 1  limited edition and there is only 190 left in stock. They'll be gone first round of season change shop orders for sure. Have you got your copy yet, or just have no clue what I'm banging on about? Well click here to get through to the book's web page. 

Camplyfe Over The Ditch by craig levers


The gorgeous Ange and I love our Chevy. We've owned the big beast for a couple of years now and it hasn't missed a beat. We've over capitalised on it for sure, but we were always going to. Sometimes it is nice just to do the things that make something better and fun. Not be totally focused the economic return.  It's been a passion project for sure, and we're proud of where it is now compared to where it started. 

There's always the next project, and we're thinking about down scaling a tad. We're thinking Troopy. Sort of like this....


It's a big deal. As the opening line reads; we really do love the Chevy. So this week we went on a test. You can't rent Troopy's in NZ anymore... bummer, we'll just have to go to Queensland for a quick bit of research! 


We hired this for 5 days, knowing that Apollo sell their ex-rentals and in fact have a couple of these for sale now. 

So before I get into the good stuff I am going to bag Apollo here, because we are dismayed at their service. The front house rental staff- awesome, super helpful and nice, but that's where it stops. In the future I will use any other rental company before using Apollo again. 

A few years ago my good mate Steve Fortune was looking to buy one of their ex-rentals too. Steve saw the model on-line he liked, rang Apollo sales to confirm the vehicle was on site at their Brisbane yard. Sweet, he flew over. Not sweet, the vehicle wasn't there when he arrived, no one knew what he was talking about. He was, quite rightly, furious. 

Knowing Steve's misadventure, both Ange and I have been talking to the Apollo sales department. We are [were] dead serious buyers. The phone calls and emails are nothing short of rad. No care, very little desire to be helpful or offer solutions. OK, if we want this, the message is, we're going to have to do the work. The Apollo sales team are there to bank the cheque and hand over the keys. 

So we hire the Troopy camper as the final test run before pressing BUY NOW. Because it's peak season we pay the premium rate. On pick up we're advised that there is a $75 cleaning fee if the vehicle is not returned in exactly the same state it is. Have you ever had to valet a rental before returning it? Insurance; we payed the extra excess reduction, but Apollo have an extra extra. Insurance doesn't cover above the windscreen or the undercarriage, that's extra- extra for that. We're advised we have to buy toll road cover- another $75.00. We pay extra for deck chairs and an outside table- that's alright, most rental co's have add ons like that. But driving out of the rental office, we were not feeling good. We've hired campers in Oz before, we've both hired cars all around the world. I used to work for Avis. This was not usual. No maps, no camper manual and no mallet for the awning pegs. Lucky we know our way around campers. 

We talked to a couple of other Apollo renters on our travels. They had similar experiences and stories from other renters. Gear missing, systems failing, dirty vehicles on pick up. The vibe was the Apollo company was not helpful. 

OK- bleet over. The point is, I would encourage you to book a camper/motorhome with any other company over Apollo. 


The good stuff. Aussie fricken rules for campgrounds! There are a lot of council owned and run campgrounds in central and beachside locations. More often than not premium real estate. The Fraser Coast is no exception with three well maintained beachside motorcamps in Hervey Bay. We wanted to try somewhere new and test out living in the Troopy the way we do the Chevy. 


Hervey Bay's iconic Urangan Pier... 868 metres long.

The Fraser Coast is the doorstep to the Great Barrier Reef.  It's also Australia's self proclaimed fishing capital. There is no surf.  But there's plenty of boat charters offering fishing, whale and dolphin watching. There's also the chance to snorkel with dugongs and turtles. With limited time, we opted for the latter option and did a half day trip with Hervey Eco-Marine Tours  . It was excellent. The wind skunked us for a decent snorkel/water time.


But the glass bottom boat is great and the staff were really personable. Part of Eco-Marine's gig is employing the local Butchulla tribe to share culture and insight into the area. Local tribesman Joe was bloody hilarious with his terrible dad jokes but also a wealth of indigenous knowledge.


To be honest I kind of rail against touristy stuff.  I have to admit the boat trip with Eco-Marine was really fun and great value for money at $105.00 per adult. Basic morning tea, light lunch and all the snorkeling gear included. 

Food; we ate so much fricken seafood. So many prawns, Hervey Bay Scollops, Calamari, Morton Bay Bugs. The options for dinning in Hervey Bay are excellent. We even had great Baramundi and chips from the local dairy on PT Vernon.  


The Troopy; well, you already know we won't be buying an ex-rental from Apollo huh! First impressions; this is small. The design of Apollo's Trailfinder didn't work for us at all. Access to the two biggest storage compartments is hard. You can't recline on the bench seats at all, your head hits the roof seam where Apollo have cut the poptop cavity. Either the benches need to be lower, or a wider cavity cut. It made us both appreciate just how much room and storage we have in the Chevy. If we do sell the Chevy, fitting out a Troopy is going to be a real challenge. Stay posted, there are plans a foot!  

From The Galleries


If you blow up this pano to say... 1200mm wide you can see the old Hiace 4x4 camper van perched up at Supers. Epic day of swell. Shot on the Fotoman 617 camera. Check it out HERE

On Yer Bike Mate! by craig levers

The idea of going for a long walk does not appeal at all. Hell, the idea of a short stroll kind of shits me. I'm not a tramper. I wish I was. It would be good for my career. I love landscape photography, love doing it. But there's the disjoint; just fly me in already. Save the energy for shooting and surfing. The thought of lugging in 20kgs of camera gear is intimidating. So I've done this.... 


I've been the very proud owner of this electric fat bike for about 5 months. My mate Neil Bridgens made it for me. He's rad. He's passionate about e-bikes. He's been tinkering with them for the last five or so years. The bike is a KHS 4000  with an EM3 electric kit. It's so much fricken fun! The plan with having the bike is to access places with a decent amount of photo gear. For scouting out spots. But what I'm loving is the moments of simply stoking out on where I've ended up. 


This week's mini mission was epic. It's kind of the local, the backyard. It's the playground looked over every time I wander out on to the deck.  There's a huge amount of appreciation that this is where home is. Having the bike has intensified that immeasurably. There's been a few scouting missions done, but this time was the real deal with a fair amount of kit in the backpack.


Tunnel Point, part of the Sand fly rail line that transported Kauri logs from Karekare down to the mouth of the Manukau harbour. It's now a DOC camping ground, it's pretty cool. 


Parahaha... so much more exploration to be done...


These bivvys fascinate. They are a bit Blair-witchy  so I wanted to shoot them in a way that conveyed that. I reckon I'll give it another crack though. 


.... see, creeepy....


So many elements and different things to capture in a single stretch of coast. It is fuelling. I don't think this stretch is unique in its uniqueness.  It's more, for me, an affirmation that New Zealand's coasts are filled with infinite delights and stoke.  


The simple things 

From The Bookstore


You can check out more NZ beaches HERE

Up With The Sparrows by craig levers

I used to hate dawnies, and I'm gonna dob me ol' mate Ste'en Webster in for this aversion to the early. Ste'en's idea of a dawn patrol was never to get up at dawn. It was to leave Ponsonby at 4am to be grovelling over the low tide rocks at Raglan pre-dawn [mid winter]. Chugging down through the Waikato in the dark and fog. In his oldies' ancient green Kombi with the shittiest heater ever. The drive was harrowing. The rock crawl pre dawn was traumatic. And then as a 15 year old grom to be faced with 6 foot walls of white wash rolling through at Outsides just as you can start to see... well the whole thing was a f@cking ordeal. 

 Tim and Ste'en Webster and yep a crusty lil punker Jan 1983, in front of the Kombi in Trinity St. Photo Lois Webster

Tim and Ste'en Webster and yep a crusty lil punker Jan 1983, in front of the Kombi in Trinity St. Photo Lois Webster

The thing is Ste'en would ring up 'Wanna do a Dawn Patrol to [insert location]' and I'd always go 'YES!'. What are you going to do, miss out? No way commander- shot gun! These drives also led to a deep loathing of Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Rush... but that's another story. 


This morning pre dawn


5 minutes later... 

Opting to be a chaser and catcher of light, i.e; a photographer. If you don't deal with the early, you're kind of screwed. I've learnt to deal. I'm not going to write it's 'now my time of the day', or, 'there's nothing better than watching the sun and light play at dawn.' 'Cos there is something better- a nice warm bed. 

This morning was fun though. Being in mission mode is fun. Calculating the variables, going for it. This morning's dawn was hardly a trial, no four hour dive, just a simple 45 minute stab over the Waitak's. The plan for a while has been to get this pano, waiting for the right amount of fog, sun track and even tide. Lucky? Sort of, it was more calculated than just dumb luck.


5 more minutes...


and what's going on behind the camera...


...which means any minute. Shoot over! 

Yeah, I hate to admit it, but Ste'en's training and ethic has stuck. Thanks old boy! 

From The Galleries


And just a mere 30 years after the first image in this post was taken, this one was. That's quite a lateral leap aye? This Pano of a deserted shack on Amboy Road in the Mojave Desert won an Epson International Pano Award in 2013. It is hands down a favourite for me. It's all about the composition of those power poles. Check it out bigger HERE

The Stamp Of Approval by craig levers


You may remember last year Warren Hawke, Juan Milak, Silas Hansen, Daisy Day and I scored a bit of a coup. NZ Post did a collection of Surf Break stamps. The project included a First Day cover and Presentation Pack. I was contracted to do all the writing and the background photographs were mine too. I got the first stamp, the $1.00 one. As above.


Me ol' Mate Cale Tolley on the cover of the Presentation Pack that was in Post Shops nationwide for most of last year


It's the first time our surf breaks, or I believe surfing, have been acknowledged at this level. Everyone involved walked away pretty stoked, and quite frankly honoured.  The Surf Breaks Stamp Project grew. NZ Post liked it enough to include it in the book they produce annually called New Zealand Stories In Stamps.


A copy of the book arrived in the post yesterday


Scotty Bell featuring on the opening spread- Photo Silas Hansen 


I was contracted to write an extended piece for the book about our Surf Breaks. With NZ Post's approval, I adapted part of what I wrote for the first chapter of  The South Seas Book


The images NZ Post used in the layout were also referenced from The South Seas Book. The reason NZ Post decided to try the Surf Breaks project was so simple, one of those random connections. The head designer's husband is a keen surfer and he had a copy of The South Seas on their coffee table. She saw how much he poured over the pages, so identified the audience. You just never know where the books will end up huh?!


Check out New Zealand Stories In Stamps HERE 

From The Bookstore


Of course you could buy NZ Post's book that costs $130.00, it is a beautifully presented 80 page book with all the stamps of each story included. Orrrrrr you could buy the South Seas for $79.00 that is wall to wall NZ surfing and 224 pages. Just saying'! 
Check out the South Seas HERE  

Could Have, Should Have- Didn't by craig levers

It Has Been Pumping

I often get asked how do I decide whether to go surfing or take photos. Well, after 30 years of struggling with it, I can firmly reply with confidence...I don't f&cking know. You just have to accept that which ever way you go will probably be wrong. Not being so cheeky about it, it's always been about perpetuating a surfing lifestyle. The reason for shooting is to be able to go surfing. Over the last bout of offshores out west I chose surfing over shooting. 


Gary Bowers aka PHLEX Photography  however, stayed strong in his commitment to the craft. Here's his patented angle of the Bar with Napes nicely placed.


Well I wasn't sure who this guy is, but then through the power of the inter web, Pando went- hey that's me!  PHLEX nailed the moment! 


Kye Bedford in the driver's seat. Photo PHLEX

Check out Gary's Facebook page HERE and follow him on Instagram HERE . And thanks Dave for bailing me out of Blog bog. 

Last Week's E-Bomb was the most read one to date. 

In keeping with that retro theme I've dug up a bunch more from the archives. It has been cold, even Phlex's images above look cold. So the theme around this retro bunch is escapes to warmer climates.


Scar Reef 2000. The grommet boat trip. On deck From left to right you have Leigh Hawker, Bobby Hansen's back, Dan Scott, Matt Scorringe,  Dan Birch, Jay Quinn and Ainsley Guness.

We scored seriously good waves on this boat charter, Scars was good, Super Suck was exceptional. The groms definitely had their boundaries pushed on this charter. But I also let them know that they weren't expected to charge anything they didn't want to. It's a tough line for a grom to navigate I reckon. The pressure of having a magazine staff photog onboard, peer pressure... I always tired to convey that there would be no judgement. That surf trips should be FUN and my job was to reflect how much fun was being had.

I still think it's important for surf media [and the surf industry in general] not to loose sight of what the reader wants to read and see. I think it's relatable stories and adventures, spliced with information of how that could be your adventure too. 

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2002 Jordan Barley at Speedies, G-Land.... speaking of groms pushing their boundaries. Jordan pushed himself hard on this trip to the jungle, it was his first time in Indo and he was travelling somewhat solo, he hit me up to see what I was doing.  He was nervous about taking on G-land but I told him I'd look after him. I was going with the Whanga Mafia, Chris Speedy, Josh Kennings and Troy Reilly, Rueben Noble joined us as well so we had a strong Kiwi crew for Java.

Pre-organised camera boats fell through [as was the norm in Java] water-housings were broken, but somewhere in the mess of it all there was good work done. And then the subsequent issue of the magazine's images were mis-scanned and the whole issue looked all over contrasty and gritty. It was heartbreaking as a photog to do the hard yards and then your results appear sub par.


Welcome to the Jungle Jordo! From left to right you have Chris Speedy working on his board, Jos in the stairwell, Troy about to bb gun me, Rueben whooping up Jordan at Backgammon.  


Rueben at Bingin 2002 a few days before we went to G-Land ...and the water housing wasn't broken. 


While I love Indo, there's definitely more of a connection to the South Pacific. This trip in 2001 was one of the best I've been on. Left to right you have Bobby Hansen, not sure who's sitting next to Bobby, Daniel Lovell behind him, a random Swedish backpacker one, Andrew Robinson, down in the centre is the host with the most BIG Dave, behind him is his wife Vena with Felix Dickson, Motu Mataa and random Swede II. We scored seriously good waves everyday. We had the best routine down, dawn shoot, breakfast, another surf search, possible shoot, arvo siesta, swim, evening bender. Repeat for 10 blissful days. 


Motz laying it over 16 years ago, timeless style. 

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On the other hand, the Pacific is also been where my worst surf trips have occurred. I've learnt to accept that Fiji is not for me. I've been beaten up on the Coral coast, stranded in Kandavu and skunked at Frigates. In fact on each of my two last trips, close friends have passed away back home. It's a horrible thing being in another country working when something bad has happened at home. I don't want more mates to die, so I don't go to Fiji. 

That said there were a lot of laughs on these disaster tours. Around the Kava bowl in 2001 is my old and dangerous Partner in Crime Steven Luff, Mikey Phillips and Stu. It's at the now defunct Frigates camp, actually we had all our cash stolen from that camp while were were out in the boat. The surf sucked that trip. 


To make amends, the next year Mikey Phillips, Nick Tansely, Tony Schaffer and I went up again, this time to score Kandavu. It was even worse. Got this shot of Mikey at 1-2 foot Wilkes though!


Tonga is regarded as super fickle. But I've always had good luck there. This is Maz the year he qualified for the World Tour, 2001. It was a great trip staying at Ha'atafu with the Burling family, as always looking after us. It was a big trip Maz Quinn, Marc Morre, Motu Mataa, Jordan Barley, Eddie Tongalaui, Nick Macrae, Matt McNeil plus a couple of others I just can't recall- sorry fellas. 


Maz 2002 at Burleigh Beach Towers, above the venue of his first World Tour Event. He made the 1/4s, his highest placing that year. I always remind him it was because I was there, it is how it works. Rik, Paige, Billy, just saying guys, just saying. 


Speaking of OZ. In 2003 Luke Harwood spearheaded a tradition that would last for the following 5 years until I left the magazine. The Annual Rusty roady on the Eastcoast of Aussie. Without exception we scored good waves every trip. Luke and Justin Souter were the lynch pins of these tours. They both did an amazing job of making the trips easy for me, they made them fun. The fun happened after the job was done and we knew we had good images in the can. We'd alternate years in between flying into Sydney and driving north, or flying into Coolangatta and heading south. There are just so many uncrowded options once you get away from the big population bases. 


Justin and Luke of the first Rusty tour... ohh this motorhome actually caught on fire! A metal egg holder shorted out the junction box. It was heavy! 


Souty, shadow play on point... you can't stop looking at it now I've mentioned it aye. 


Jos Kennings, Tahiti In 2003. Budgets for photo trips really started to come into play around this time. Surf trips changed, not better, not worse, just different. Previous to this surf trips where kind of cobbled together with whoever could go, they'd largely be the surfer self funding their own trip and working in with me where'd we go. In 2002-3 the brands now had the budget to send an entire team away on the photoshoot. 

My publisher still paid my costs and wage, in part in order for there to be a distinction and hopefully make it clear we had editorial control. I don't think it really translated too well. Everyone on these trips had fun and there was still an element of challenge and exploration. But there was a shift in expectations from the sponsor/brand. For a magazine and a photographer it's a slippery side. The surfers now were on the company's ticket, so they were there to work it, the photojournalistic reportage of a surf trip like that is different. I think the best editorial comes from trips where the participants are almost un-expected parings.  


Blair Stewart same session, same roll of film. 


Sam Willis and Jos at the end of the road, Tahiti 2003

no name.jpg

Ben Kennings, Teahupoo 2004 top and bottom


Regardless of those nuances, with winter's firm embrace, just where would you rather be? yep in that boat with BK I reckon too! 

From The Bookstore 


Ohhh, feeling all nostalgic and yearning for yesteryears now? Well have I got the book for you! There are still a couple of boxes- and I do mean only a few- of PhotoCPL- New Zealand Surfing Photography 1991-2008 left. Get retro! Get PhotoCPL! Check it out HERE

Factory Seconds by craig levers

The Out Takes 


In the latest issue of Damaged Goods the lead feature is a piece the fellas asked me to write about the 1990's. You can read more about that issue and the making of the feature HERE .

It has been out a month now, so I'm going to share some of the out-takes. The shots that made the edit selection but in the end didn't quite make the cut.  


First up is Timmy Curran in 1996. This image was the first alternate in the cut. It was shot in the Valley during a free surf around the Billabong Raglan WQS. It's hard to convey just how big the 3 Raglan Billabong WQS's were in the mid 90's. They were perfectly timed into a gap in the WQS schedule, just after the Aussie leg. There was a massive influx of international surfers. Surfing in NZ was going through a massive spike in popularity so the combination meant Raglan was packed with spectators. 

 Me ol' partner in crime Chris 'Budge' Berge on the tools for the '95 final of the Billabong Coca-Cola Raglan WQS 

Me ol' partner in crime Chris 'Budge' Berge on the tools for the '95 final of the Billabong Coca-Cola Raglan WQS 

Tim Curren had just featured in Taylor Steele's 1995 release Focus. The goofy footer opened the video landing a crazy 360 air. Sponsored by Quiksilver he was toted as the next threat to Kelly Slater's crown. He was the surfer everyone wanted images of. 

I'm flopping around in the Valley with my alloy housing with the Canon Eos 5 camera,  a 28mm lens with 36 frames of Velvia loaded. I'm working with Shane Herring trying to get some snaps, but then out of nowhere Tim does this. At the time I didn't even know he was in the water and it happened so fast I wasn't sure who I'd just shot. I wouldn't know for a week  until all the rolls of film got processed. The sequence got used as a DPS in the preceeding issue of NZ Surf Mag. Quikky expressed interest in using it internationally which at the time stoked me out. I was only a couple of seasons into shooting from the water. 

So thank you Tim for throwing up a nice flare on your wave in that crispy autumn morning in 1996. You made my swim. 


This is a bit of a controversial one to post 'cos I don't know if Larry Fisher will be that stoked on it resurfacing. But it's posted with love and warm memories of great times. In 1994 Daggy Dance parties were the norm. The idea was that everyone wore the daggiest shit they could find. It was a cool way of lightening up the scene. During the 90's Piha had a very happening surf scene. Rent was cheap, cars and petrol were cheap so heaps of surfing students opted to live out at the beach. Added to that a lot of NZ top surfers of the era were also living at Piha. 

This daggy party was at Larry and his wife to be Donna's flat, just above Pendrel Road. It ended up being quite the party house for a year or two. In this shot there's Larry resplendent in his green get up- just owning it. Behind him is Nat Barron and Brent 'Dinky' Parkinson rocking his fur coat. The blonde is Donna, to the left rocking the grey trackys and Hawaiian shirt is Carla Michel. Far left is Charlie Chase with his iconic oriential/hawaiian shirt. 

This was shot on my beloved Olympus MJU II compact. Every photojournalist carried a Mju at that time, the small camera had an epically sharp 35mm glass lens. It allowed you take casual, more natural shots because you weren't putting a big SLR in someone's face. I guess an iphone does the same job now huh.


Cyco-Mike in full Suicidal mode. And here I'm pushing the shit out of what the Olympus Mju could do. In 1996 Suicidal Tendencies played the Powerstation in Auckland. The Sui's are one of my all time favourite bands, added to this my favourite NZ band Muckhole [as featured in the pages of DGZ] were opening for the Sui's an absolute match made in heaven as far as I was concerned. But wait there's more! Sean O'Brien, the lead singer of Muckhole got a bunch of us backstage for the entire concert. We were actually allowed onstage, so I shot a roll of black'n'white side stage of both bands. We were all so excited to be backstage I think we all tucked into Muckhole's rider a bit too much. I know it must have been fun, but I don't remember too much. Got the shot though! 


Take your sunnies off!  In 1997 there was a short lived TV channel called Max TV, Ella Willis [in the red Fox cap] was one of the presenters. Being a surfer and coming from the Willis surfing whanau, she was pretty good at pushing a surfing agenda with the Max TV producers. So we would team up to go on surf/photoshoots together. But the shithouse thing was every damn trip we got skunked for waves.

This one was with the Billabong A team of the time, from left to right there's Kelly Lovelock, Scott Casey, Jos Kennings, Ella, Ben Kennings at the back and Scotty McNabb sans sunnies in the front. We go so so skunked on this trip. Scott Casey's mum Cynthia was still running the old Cedarwood Motel in Port Rd, Whangamata. So Scott dialled in the accomodation. There was a nice 3 foot swell running, but overnight gale force south westers killed the swell. We were forced to settle with 1 foot Opoutere. So the smiles you see in this image are actually grimaces. 

 Ella, beating us all in the drinking games. On the night of the howling winds, Scott and Kelly, not looking too stoked on her skills

Ella, beating us all in the drinking games. On the night of the howling winds, Scott and Kelly, not looking too stoked on her skills

It's of note how well all these surfers have gone on to do. Kelly is a top and highly regarded creative at FCB Advertising. Scott Casey was Billabong's Marketing manager for YEARS, before taking the plunge and now he and is wife Tiniel run Quiksilver NZ. Jos also worked for Billabong for years and now runs Hurley NZ with his wife Sarah. Ella worked for Arnette for awhile before getting into hospo, owning one of the Mount's most successful Cafe's. Ben has been the lynch pin of Surfing NZ since 2003, you have no idea the volume of work this fella does. Scotty McNabb bailed for the Goldcoast not long after this shoot, where he's an operation services officer, I have no idea what that is, but the bugger is always in Indo surfing. 

From The Bookstore


hhh, feeling all nostalgic and yearning for yesteryears now? Well have I got the book for you! There are still a couple of boxes- and I do mean only a few- of PhotoCPL- New Zealand Surfing Photography 1991-2008 left. Get retro! Get PhotoCPL! Check it out HERE

The Birthday Party by craig levers

   Piha Layers   in California at 1200mm wide stretched

Piha Layers in California at 1200mm wide stretched

I'll let you in on something, 10 years ago the PhotoCPL website was started up, it was mainly to offer images. The option of canvas printing was pretty new. I didn't like it, I thought it was a bit gimmicky- like you're trying to make a photo look like a painting. I thought it was a fad that will run its course, but my printers reckoned they were super popular, so canvas was offered up as an option. 

   Piha Bar Barrel   in a classic white on white box frame at 900mm wide print size

Piha Bar Barrel in a classic white on white box frame at 900mm wide print size

I was wrong. While traditionally framed print behind glass is still the standard, there's a lot to be said for canvases. Canvas printing has moved beyond a fad and is definitely a viable option. If it's a big canvas there is no issue at all with the sharpness of the printed image. We use an organic German canvas, not those tacky synthetic ones, it's then UV lamented which a part from helping slow UV damage, it seals the ink in. This makes the canvas wipeable. So all my pre-conceived ideas about photographic prints mimicking paintings was pretty much wrong.

 3 big canvases from a few years ago

3 big canvases from a few years ago

But here's the real deal about canvases, they are light! Traditional frames with glass are more expensive because there are more components, glass, matts and the frame, it also makes them quite weighty, so more consideration needs to go into hanging them. Canvases are stretched over a simple pine frame which is a lot lighter. I reckon this is the big selling point, in a high traffic area or if there are young kids in the home canvases are safer- no glass to shatter. And chances are if a canvas does get dislodged, it'll probably handle the jandal of the fall. 

   Mangawhai Bar   on canvas at 1200mm wide

Mangawhai Bar on canvas at 1200mm wide

 A perfect example of the right use of canvas in a high traffic area,the award winning    Piha Storm   at 1600mm wide in the Piha Cafe

A perfect example of the right use of canvas in a high traffic area,the award winning  Piha Storm at 1600mm wide in the Piha Cafe

 One of my favourite canvas installations this past summer   Piha Peak   on canvas at 1200mm wide 

One of my favourite canvas installations this past summer Piha Peak on canvas at 1200mm wide 

On PhotoCPL.co.nz  all the images are offered as un-stretched and un-framed canvases/prints. It means the prices are the same whichever option you want. It's also the best and safest way to send out the pieces. They get sent out in a cardboard cylinder and then the client can decide on framing choices at their end. 

 Don't let Simon Gilbert's frown put you off- go big for home, this is   Muriwai Ganets   at 2000mm wide... and Piha Storm in the background  

Don't let Simon Gilbert's frown put you off- go big for home, this is Muriwai Ganets at 2000mm wide... and Piha Storm in the background

But June is my birthday month and PhotoCPL.co.nz is kind of celebrating it's 10th year of existence too. So what's the deal getting offered here: EVERY canvas ordered in June will be stretched Free Of Charge... as in, no extra. The deal is available for nationwide delivery [sorry internationals]  



PhotoCPL.co.nz is where you can view and buy both prints and BOOKS! Like the might Big Little Beach Book, small in price and stature, big on Kiwi beaches delivery. 

The Other Side of The Lens With Meady by craig levers


Last week, my mate and colleague Damon Meade was up from his native Gisborne. He stayed for four days of good shooting conditions. It was super fun. Hanging out, talking shit and plans for the future. It is rad to realise we have known and worked alongside each other for more than 15 years. We've often been a part of the media scrum at surf events. You don't do that event in event out, spending days on end behind the tripods not becoming firm friends. 

Meady has become one a veteran of NZ surf media- perhaps a dubious title. But there is no doubt he's done the yards. So for this post, it's all about the moving image.  

How and when did you get started shooting surf videos?

I was at Massey University studying fine art in the early 2000's and my work involved doing video installation. I bought a mini DV camera to document and create my art projects.  I started playing around with shooting some surf in the holidays. I came home from Uni one time and Maz was living next door to my parents. I hit him up to see if he wanted to shoot. The next day I got a 5am call up and we shot up the coast to a mysto spot for the day and that was kind of the start of it. 

There were a bunch of other crew living in Gisborne at the time that were all surfing at a world class level. Bobby Hansen, Blair Stewart and Ricardo Christie for instance. The talent was there so it was pretty easy to roll up to the beach and capture what was going down. I knew I was witnessing a particularly high level era in NZ surfing. I made it my job to document this. After enough hours and months spent on the beach had passed I had enough for a full feature surf film; The DVD Wolfskinz was born. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 9.00.32 AM.jpg

https://vimeo.com/175660918 - Wolfskinz

Even early on my goal was to get NZ surfing onto a Taylor Steele video. I sent him a miniDV tape packed with all my best stuff of the Kiwi crew, but never quite made the cut. 

That radical layback of Bobby from the opening wave of Wolfskinz was penciled in to an early rough cut of 'Stranger Than Fiction', but didn't make the final cut. Around 2010 the Innersection platform emerged and my goal was achieved, securing Luke Cederman into one of Taylor's vids. 

I backed that up the year following working with Ricardo Christie. I had achieved everything I'd set out to do with surf filming in NZ once the dust had settled.

But Meady didn't stop there. Under the Weather is NZ's most viewed surf video. How did the project start, and could you explain the crowd funding and then subsequent distribution? 

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 9.01.15 AM.jpg

https://vimeo.com/55901233 - Under The Weather

Goals were fulfilled.  Cameras destroyed and the show reel was shining, but the money wasn't there.  So I brain stormed a way to spend 12 months chasing action around the country and put something tangible together one last time. I crowd funded Under the Weather, which always intended to remain online, free, forever. There was a print run of just 200 DVD's that were effectively pre ordered by some of the funders.  Other rewards included surf product that generous sponsors had donated, which I then on sold as part of the funding campaign. When the film was completed, I sent it out to every surf related website worldwide. Within a couple of months it had reached 50k views. A lot of time went into getting it front of the right people.  Making sure every surf site in the world knew about it and had the option of posting it. The film itself took the best part of a year to put together.

Can someone make a living out of filming surf in NZ or even the world for that matter? 

I wouldn't want to discourage anybody with the desire to pursue this path. It's important to emphasize that if you want it anything is possible. I think being passionate about your craft and putting in the time are two of the most important ingredients for success. There are definitely folks out there at the top of their game that have the skills to command highly sought after day rates and production gigs within the industry. I think it comes down to being innovative with your vision from a business model perspective.  Realising that shooting surf is a part of the bigger whole. Ultimately it's a passion gig with the potential to earn income and lead to other things. 

One advantage is that surf films take a long time to put together. Through this time spent behind the camera and in real life shooting scenarios, you get pretty good. That skill set can translate into a career, and the world is literally your oyster with where you can take it. 

Career spin offs could lead to following the WSL around the world as a cameraman full time, working on self directed initiatives with a sponsorship backbone, or creating content for brands. If you're good at what you do, keep it up but treat yourself as a business. You can spend all the time in the world standing on the beach, but you still have to put bread on the table at the end of the day. It's always nice to be able to afford that brand new camera you've always needed too and big cameras get big jobs.

 Meady on the tools at Piha last week

Meady on the tools at Piha last week

Who told you that line Meady :) Great advance bro. So speaking of skills, what do you think your key work ones are?

My job generally involves showing up as a one man production company. So shooting with the edit in mind, self directing and making sure I walk away with everything I need to put together a video once I walk off set. So it's crucial to get every shot right and to be able to think on your feet. I know how to shoot tack sharp footage that has great audio under pressure situations, because that's what I have to be able to do. Lately I'm doing a lot of time lapse work and shooting a heap of landscape photography, which is also forming part of my business model moving forwards. Here are some snippets of some recent work:

 https://vimeo.com/238639606 - Showreel

You are doing a lot more corporate work now,  will this eventually drag you away from the beach forever?  

To be honest 75-80% of my work is non surf related, so yes that's happening. But those jobs provide challenges of their own and they are mighty enjoyable in their own ways. I do a lot of construction time lapses. I tell brand stories and document products and processes for all sorts of companies. The work is really interesting and it is putting me I'm in a position where I have to learn everything there is to know about a business to tell its story. Technically these jobs keep me on my toes in regards to equipment and filming techniques. I like the balance, and having this work makes it that much more enjoyable to be called away to a surf event for a weekend and catch up with all of the legends that put on that show.

So there you go; check out the links and enjoy some fine work from one of NZ's best. 


PhotoCPL.co.nz is where you can view and buy both books and prints like this one. The four Galleries have over 180 images available. And this is a brand new two. Both shot on film and then drum scanned for gnarly, GNARLY high resolution.  Check them out in the Elements Gallery


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.   


PhotoCPL.co.nz 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