SURFING SOAPBOX:Saving and surfing waves

The Surfing Soapbox is going global again.

After stops this year including London, the Canary Islands, Sea Ranch (Northern California) and San Francisco (twice), the Surfing Soapbox is off this weekend to the ultra green and sheep covered island of New Zealand.

From most accounts, I have heard that New Zealand compares to California in the early sixties — perhaps even earlier — and as a youngster I can remember the good old days when a drive out Laguna Canyon road meant seeing cattle on both sides of the road.

The reason for this trip will be to meet with government officials and local environmental groups to try and salvage yet another world class wave that is being threatened by a proposed marina project.


The wave: Whangamata is located on the North Island, which is said to be used by thousands of surfers for recreational purposes.

A Maori tribe also opposes the marina because of fears that the traditional food-gathering areas will be lost. This same estuary is also part of the Maori’s heritage, where archeological artifacts may be unearthed during such construction.

Ironically, about 20 kilometers away, the government has just completed a new artificial reef that is rumored to reel off 300-yard right barreling tubes.

This trip is in partnership with the Save the Waves coalition and a new adventure documentary entitled “Eco-Warriors, guardians of surf,” fueled by XS Energy drinks and the Surfers Path.


A two-week journey lies ahead in which my traveling companions Will Henry (director of Save the Waves) and film maker Vince Duer and I will set off in an RV around the coast of New Zealand’s epic north coast in hopes of saving waves and surfing them.


  • JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, board member of Clean Water Now, professional surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at

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