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. 

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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. 

s71 5.jpg

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. 

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 11.47.55 AM.jpg

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

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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  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 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]  


2BlBBs.jpg 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 - 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 - 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: - 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. 

tologa617v002.jpg 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.   

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.  

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 7.38.10 AM.jpg

Rambo scored this week out East 


Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 7.51.48 AM.jpg

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... 

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 8.17.39 AM.jpg

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