Surf Guiding / by craig levers

Surf Guide -slash- directory books sit in a strange place in our culture. We all love to hate them. We hate that our personal favourite spots [even though they may be well known] are 'exposed'.  But sure enough, when it comes time for a roady, the surf guide is laboured over and consumed with delight of what lies ahead.  Surfing is filled with contradictions. 

Back in the day my boss David Hall wanted the NZ Surf mag staff to do a NZ Surf Guide. It was totally understandable from David's viewpoint. The Mag had an awesome archive of images, we were going to surf spots all around the country shooting. In fact, a reason he employed the staff he did was because we had a better than average idea of where to go. And we had the magazine to market the book. 

We all refused point blank. We explained that we needed to keep going back to these spots make magazines.  That having positive interactions with the surfers that had chosen these places to be their home was vital. Producing such a book would alienate us from the core. We just didn't want to be 'THAT GUY'. 

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And then Pete Morse and Paul Brunskil did it. Decades of surfing knowledge and then years of compiling and research.  They produced the little brick of book The New Zealand Surfing Guide  . They did an excellent job, way better than we would have done at the Surf mag. 

David Hall was not happy. As far as he was concerned, we'd missed a golden opportunity to make good money and consolidate the business. Of course he was right. But the fact remained, that as staff members and photographers of the country's top surf mag we were very visible. There was no doubt it would have made our jobs, ongoing, very difficult. I talked to Pete Morse about it at the time, he confirmed he'd had to field some horrid conversations. Threats of violence and worse.  

The NZ Surf Guide has gone on to be NZ's top selling surfing book by a country mile. Paul Brunskil is cagey about the numbers, but we're talking tens and tens of thousands of copies over the years. 

Paul and I started work on the comprehensive South Pacific Surf Guide. And this is a book that you will never read. I wrote and collated the whole damn thing, spent months on it.... and then dropped nuts... again. While doing the research and talking to a lot of the surfers up in the Islands, I realised I was trying to cash in on a resource because I needed income in the short term. 

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This week I got paid for my contribution to The World Stormrider Surf Guide. It's a gnarly book, weighing in at 2.5 kgs and 450 pages. I doubt I'll get hate for the images they used, for the spots they 'exposed'. They are hardly off the beaten track. But you never know, us surfers, we are a contridictory band of misfits. 

From The Bookstore  


The South Seas Revised Edition, no maps drawn here! The South Seas is all about celebrating the great surf we have in NZ via some of the incredible Kiwi photographers and their work. While the South Seas first edition, reprint and revised editions are in no way nipping at the heels of the NZ Surf Guide sales wise, it is kind of nice to be the distant second most popular NZ surf book. Check it out HERE