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Careers in search and rescue

There are around 11,000 people are involved in the search and rescue sector in New Zealand - 91% of whom are volunteers. 

There are a variety of different opportunities for volunteer and paid employment in the sector.  

SAR volunteers

Volunteering opportunities can be found within the volunteer agencies, who supply the bulk of the people in the sector. 

As a volunteer you could be out searching rugged terrain or urban areas for a missing person, or taking part in a shoreline search from a rescue boat. You could be part of the Incident Management Team for a search, working out where to place search teams or helping with logistics. You could be answering radio calls and passing information on to where it needs to go. You could be involved in training, administration, funding or governance. 

You don’t need to be exceptionally fit or strong to volunteer for search and rescue – there are roles to suit everyone’s capabilities. 

Please contact one of the volunteer agencies listed below if you would like to volunteer for search and rescue:  

Paid roles in SAR

Current vacancies

There are no current vacancies that NZSAR is aware of.


Possible opportunities

Please contact the relevant agencies below to enquire about paid roles. 

For more information please contact the relevant agency.  

  • Department of Conservation – Professional mountain guides are hired as part of the only full-time SAR team in New Zealand, which is based at Aoraki/Mt Cook Village. 
  • Police – Officers can apply to become a SAR Squad member, which is a part time role among normal policing duties. 
  • Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand – RCCNZ is based in Lower Hutt, and employs SAR Officers who coordinate aviation and maritime searches, and respond to distress beacon activations in New Zealand. 
  • New Zealand Defence Force - NZDF employees sometimes participate in SAR operations and training exercises, usually with helicopter or maritime patrol aircraft.  
  • Helicopter crews – such as pilots, medics, winch operators and support staff contribute to SAR operations.  
  • Support roles in the volunteer agencies – each of the volunteer agencies listed above have staff who provide a range of support functions to aid the volunteers.  
Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police