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What's our role?

Page updated: 22 December 2020

The role of the Search and Rescue (SAR) sector is to search for, rescue and save the lives of people who are in physical danger in outdoor situations.

We work together to save lives

There are many different organisations involved in New Zealand’s Search and Rescue sector (“the SAR sector”). Our collective mission is to:

“Ensure New Zealand has effective search and rescue services for people in distress throughout New Zealand’s search and rescue region in order to save lives.”

People expect to be rescued fast

Recent NZSAR research has shown that people generally expect to be found within two to five hours if lost and or hurt in the bush.

The use of helicopters in SAR has become expected to a certain extent. SAR coverage is expected nationwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is informative to contrast these expectations with the size of the area for which the SAR sector is responsible. The NZ Search and Rescue Region (NZSRR) is vast, covering over 37 million square kilometres of ocean and stretching north as far as Tokelau and south as far as Scott Base in Antarctica. In this context, it is very easy to get lost or injured and very difficult to locate people when they are.


Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police