STUCK IN TRANSIT
Youhear it when you travel, you read it in the travel magazines and online. New Zealand, our country, has a reputation as the most beautiful, serene and untouched place on the planet. A visit to our shores is on most tourists 'Bucket List'. As locals it is easy to take what we have for granted, so we thought from now on we would catch up with visiting surfers that we run into on our travels and get the word from them on their experiences while taking in the waves, views and vibes of Aotearoa. It just might make you appreciate how good we have it just that little bit more.
This issue we feature Jonah Lake, a musician/surfer from Sweden, who has become a regular visitor to our shores playing gigs and surfing his way across Aotearoa.
You’re from Sweden and have travelled to countries such as Portugal, Norway, Sri Lanka, Canary Islands, Australia and many more, yet you keep on making your way back to nz, what attracts you here?
New Zealand has basically got all the good things from every nation I've ever travelled to and I've been to over 25 countries. From the amazing mountains to perfect beaches, all the welcoming friendly people, friendly locals and great culture. I never in my life thought I would visit such an amazing country as this. It's been a long-time dream since I was a teenager to visit New Zealand after I first saw Endless summer. I really love the old school vibe of the villages and the people. I've had many of the best waves in my life here and I lived 10 years in the Canary Islands (the Hawaii of Europe), surfed Pipe, Supertubos in Portugal, Hossegor in France etc. For me it's the long pointbreaks and amazing scenery that gets me going. Good vibes, great beer and awesome jams.
The world doesn’t hear much about surf in sweden, how did you get into surfing and what's your local surf culture like?
When I started out in the 90’s there was a tiny surf scene going on. Probably less than 100 surfers in the whole county. Now it has become a lot bigger industry with surf camps, surf schools, surfboard brands, surf shops, shapers, surf mags and overcrowded surf spots. In fact, most surf spots in Sweden are way more crowded than most spots I've
"Every country has got assholes but New Zealand has got the least assholes per capita of all the countries I've been to, and the friendliest people per capita as well."
surfed in New Zealand which is crazy considering the quality of the waves in NZ are about 100 times better. We get good waves once in a while and when it's good in Sweden it's EPIC and when it's epic in Sweden it's like a shitty day in Manu Bay but the stoke among the the Swedes is beyond belief in a good way. A cold day on the NZ South Island would be a pretty warm day during the 6 months of Swedish winter. I've surfed waters below freezing point in -10ºC snowstorms, 2-foot mushy waves and closeouts with a smile on my face. I've always been addicted to the ocean and dreamed my whole life about living on an island surfing my days away. I was 11 years old when Point Break came out and that changed me in a good way. We did not have surf magazines, surf movies or anything associated with surfing at that time so the only surf I ever saw on a screen between 1991 and 1999 was the movies Point break, Endless Summer 1 and 2, Blue juice, North Shore and In God’s Hands. We had no surf instructors, no one to show us how a duck dive was made etc. But the stoke was 100%. Elin and Jonas Tawharu are Kiwi junior legends and half Swedish by the way and they charge hard!
So how long have you been here in NZ and what have you experienced?
I've visited NZ four times so far since 2011 and it's been a total of 19 months. While living in a van with my girlfriend I've had the best time of my life, met the coolest people, had some of the best gigs in my life and surfed my brains out. All in all, it has been great. Every country has got assholes but New Zealand has got the least assholes per capita of all the countries I've been to, and the friendliest people per capita as well. I went over to OZ for a week, got homesick and went back to NZ. We've been mostly in Tutukaka coast, Taranaki and in the Raglan area. I reckon Taranaki is my favourite place in the world when it comes to living the good life, meeting awesome people and surfing my dream waves. Raglan is my kind of village when it comes to party, jam, shop, hang out, go searching and catch the waves of your life, when it's not too crowded. Tutukaka Coast feels like home in many ways where we’ve got many friends and where we've spend a lot of time. They’ve got some of the friendliest locals, quality beach-breaks, great fishing and easy living any Swede could wish for. Just driving around NZ is a great experience for a non-Kiwi. I'm nearly 40 and the other people we meet traveling in vans are around 20 so we feel like the grumpy old people sometimes. Too many freedom campers are fucking up nature and that is wrong, so we tell them. We always try to pick up extra trash and clean up after anyone who has left their mess where we are camping. Some of our dream camping spots are now gone/closed because of new smartphone apps and messy young campers and that is a shame. But we keep on searching and still finding amazing places, meeting great people and loving the NZ vibe. Thank you, all surfers and people of NZ, so much for your hospitality!
Where have you scored the best surf during your stays?
Best waves? Hehe, I can't tell you because I would get beat up by some locals if I did hehe. But I've scored Manu, Indies, Shippies, Sandys, Whanga, Taupo and many spots in Taranaki, as good as it gets over the years. Too many great sessions to even start to explain and so many spots I don't even want to mention where I've surfed with only a handful of guys in dreamy conditions. I surf on a 5´5” Morris and a 6´4” single fin. Waves that will echo in my mind forever.
You’re a musician and have played in many clubs, pubs and festivals throughout NZ, your first album ‘Free Soul’ has had over 1 million streams, and you’ve just released your latest album ‘Neverland’ which was inspired and I believe dedicated to your time and experiences in NZ?
In fact the cover picture of both my albums are shot it in NZ. The Free Soul picture was taken in Sandy Bay and the new album, Neverland, cover was taken on the rocks by Manu Bay. A few songs on both the albums are written here in New Zealand. The song Neverland is about coming from the other side of the world and getting hooked on NZ, just like Peter Pan got hooked on Neverland. My two most played songs online is ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Don't Grow Up It's A Trap’. They are about traveling and living life. The music video to ‘Don't grow up it's a trap’ was filmed in NZ and shown at the Raglan Film Festival a few years ago. In the video there is some skate, surf, adventure etc.. from all over the North Island. My girlfriend filmed it and put it together just for fun. I'm also working on another project called Nowhere men and we release an EP with 4 songs in February. The Jonah Lake sound is more acoustic surf/funk/reggae style and Nowhere men is more towards old school 70s folk/blues. You can find my music on any streaming site incl.. Spotify, iTunes etc www.jonahlake.com for videos, tour dates and more info. So will you be back anytime soon?
Yeahhhh. Me and my fiancée are coming back at the beginning of December and we will be around for the whole summer on the North Island. We will be chasing waves, hanging with friends, enjoying life and playing music. Please send us an e-mail if you wanna surf, jam, have a gig or hang out! firstname.lastname@example.org
Big and fun on Surf highway