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. Health, safety, welfare and risk management
  2. Roles and responsibilities
  3. Surf environment 
  4. Communications 
  5. Rescue equipment
  6. Surf lifeguard skills 
  7. CPR
  8. First Aid 


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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of health, safety, welfare and risk management for all surf lifeguards. 
  2. Identify and describe the roles and responsibilities you will encounter while on patrol and your responsibilities as members of SLSNZ. 
  3. Describe the features of the surf environment.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of effective communication and how to communicate effectively. 
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of effective scanning techniques and patient identification.
  6. Communicate using a two-way radio.
  7. Demonstrate signals used for communication.
  8. Perform releases and towns in an aquatic environment. 
  9. Perform a tube rescue.
  10. Provide resuscitation (no unit standards).
  11. Provide first aid (no unit standards).
  12. Mange first aid in emergency situations.

Award currency: 12 months

To begin training for this qualification contact your club training manager or 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 these manuals can be purchased from SLSNZ via the Club Shop (club administrator access only)

Surf Lifeguard Award Training Manual (updated September 2022)
Surf Lifeguard Award Candidate Workbook WRITABLE (updated September 2022)