Surf Lifeguard Award

Course Overview

The Surf Lifeguard Award certifies that the holder has the basic skills and knowledge to be a Surf Lifeguard.  This is the entry-level qualification for members to be a patrolling member.  The Surf Lifeguard Award is the first step on the Surf Life Saving New Zealand lifeguard pathway.

Course Information 

Pre-requisites: 14 years of age  |  Current member of a SLS club 

Duration: Variable depending on competence and instruction structure 2-8 weeks 

Delivered by: Surf Life Saving club instructors, examined by local examiners 

Who should complete it: Anyone interested in getting started as a Surf Lifeguard

Candidate requirements: Complete all tests, practical tasks and theory successfully 

Exam components

  • 400m pool swim under 9 minutes
  • Run-Swim-Run in the Surf
  • Tube Rescue in the pool and surf
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Communication Signals
  • Radio Communication
  • Theory questions
  • Rescue tows and releases

Topics covered 

  1. Introduction and risk management
  2. The physical environment 
  3. CPR
  4. First Aid 
  5. Roles and responsibilities 
  6. Surf Lifeguard skills and knowledge 
  7. Communication 



At the completion of the qualification candidates will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of health and safety issues relevant to Surf Life Saving members.
  2. Describe the features of the surf environment.
  3. Identify and describe the roles and responsibilities of a Surf Lifeguard.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of effective communication.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of effective scanning techniques and victim identification.
  6. Perform retrieval of underwater objects.
  7. Perform releases and tows in an aquatic environment.
  8. Demonstrate Surf Life Saving signal communication and demonstrate knowledge of graphic communication.
  9. Communicate using a two-way radio.
  10. Perform a tube rescue.
  11. Provide resuscitation (no unit standards).
  12. Provide first aid (no unit standards).


To begin training for this qualification contact your club Lifesaving Coordinator.

Online Resources

Once candidates have completed their Surf Lifeguard Award the training manual should be kept by them as reference. Hard copies of this manual can be purchased from SLSNZ. 

Online Download: Surf Lifeguard Award Training Manual (updated July 2019)

Online Download: Surf Lifeguard Award Candidate Workbook (updated July 2019)