Are you considering volunteering with one of our search and rescue organisations?
This information is intended to inform and assist in linking you up with an organisation you may be interested in joining.
There are three general types of search and rescue: land, marine and air. Volunteers are less common in the air environment due to the extremely high levels of training required to operate SAR aircraft effectively. There are, however, many opportunities to volunteer for the land and marine environments.
Land Search and Rescue
Land search and rescue is the focus of two major volunteer organisations:
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC).
LandSAR has over sixty groups across the country so there is likely to be one near you.
We welcome new volunteers who will commit time to training and can be available at short notice. LandSAR volunteers operate in a wide variety of area's including alpine, bush, urban and even underground in caves. There are also some who specialise in areas such as working with dogs, communications and in base support.
Ideally, you will have good basic bushcraft skills, reliable outdoor gear, and reasonable fitness to volunteer as a LandSAR Team Member. LandSAR will train you in specific search and rescue skills and as you gain skills and experience, you may move into a team leadership role and, with specific training, eventually into search management.
LandSAR is also interested in volunteers with good computer skills. Search management is rapidly becoming computerised, and new roles are appearing for people with computer networking, information management, and/or key-boarding skills. This is an exciting area of SAR development.
Volunteer with LANDSAR or phone 04 473 6108.
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
AREC provides communications support to the New Zealand Police and LandSAR for search and rescue operations.
In most areas AREC is involved in providing the communications equipment and operators at the search headquarters, and providing support for the setting up of equipment and training for the search teams who communicate back to the search headquarters.
As well as communicating between the search teams and the search headquarters AREC volunteers may also be required to provide communications back to a town base if the search is in a very remote area. Communications to air support is also sometimes required.
There are over 45 AREC Sections spread over New Zealand.
Volunteer with NZART
Marine Search and Rescue
The two main volunteer organisations who participate in marine search and rescue are Coastguard NZ and Surf Life Saving NZ.
As a maritime search and rescue service, Coastguard NZ makes New Zealand’s waterways a safer place for boaties. Coastguard has 67 affiliated units located across the country.
At present, Coastguard is made up of more than 2,500 dedicated active volunteers and has 75 dedicated search and rescue vessels in its fleet, two small fixed wing single engine aircraft, and access to aeroclub aircraft at nine locations from Kerikeri to Invercargill.
All Coastguard crew members on board our rescue vessels and air patrol craft are passionate volunteers. Coastguard volunteers learn seamanship, boat handling, navigation and leadership.
Volunteer with Coastguard or call 0800 COASTGUARD.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand
Surf Life Saving is one of the leading water safety organisation in New Zealand.
SLSNZ has been providing Surf Lifesaving services to New Zealand communities for nearly 100 years.
There are 71 Surf Life Saving Clubs throughout New Zealand, stretching from Ahipara in the North to Oreti in the South.
The Clubs generally patrol from Labour weekend to Easter each summer, however in the south it is a slightly shorter season.
During the height of the summer holiday period, at the most popular beaches, Surf Lifeguards patrol 7 days a week.
SLSNZ has over 13,000 members.
Volunteer with Surf Life Saving New Zealand or call 04 384 8325.
Still keen to volunteer but perhaps doing something else?
Visit Volunteering NZ or call 0800 865 268.