Search & Rescue (SAR)


The beach provides the single most significant access to water for the New Zealand public each year. The NZSAR recreational report “Reducing SAR responses”: A framework to achieve safer recreation in New Zealand June 2016 identified 69% of all New Zealanders visited a beach at least once in that calendar year.

The beach and coastal environment in New Zealand is high risk, with significant potential for loss of life by drowning. Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s (SLSNZ) purpose “To Lead and Support Surf Lifesaving in New Zealand in partnership with its Clubs” seeks to continually improve upon the level of risk minimisation inherent applied in the coastal environment. By supporting the clubs in their development and maintenance of Search and Rescue Squads, countless lives have been saved, and Families left intact as a direct result of the fantastic work the SAR squads carry out within their communities.

In New Zealand, there are forty surf lifesaving Search and Rescue Squads. Made up of around 450 dedicated volunteers committed to keeping our communities safe and stepping in to help save those in peril or recover those who have become lost at sea. The SAR squads primarily consist of several SLS Clubs working together to supply a sustainable, high-quality, reliable service 24/7, 365 days a year. Squads cover almost the entire country, from Invercargill to the Far North and the West Coast across to the East Coast of both Islands. The funding available will allow SLSNZ the opportunity to bring members from these squads together in one place to train together.

Download the Lifesaving and Search & Rescue Strategic Plan

How to get involved?

Search and Rescue (SAR) is an exciting and important space in Surf Life Saving, reacting to assist people when in most need and save lives is what it's all about.  To start your SAR pathway contact your Club SAR Coordinator to discuss the opportunity to learn and join the team.  Alternatively if your Club is not currently involved in SAR operations then contact your Regional Lifesaving Manager for further information about how you could be involved in SAR.  Click here for Staff Contact

Minimum Qualifications Required:

  • SAR members must be 18+ years old before they can be involved in SAR Training and Callouts.
  • Be a current member and refreshed Patrol Support or Lifeguard.

SAR Education

Your Club SAR training is your first step to learn what is required to perform SAR activity effectively and safely. This may involve learning about the SAR standard operating procedures, Club SAR training and what to do when messaged about a SAR activity or learning about Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) with other rescue agencies.


SAR Summit 2022

The SLSNZ Search and Rescue Summit combines dynamic theory sessions, sector-led operational reviews and presentations with several intensive practical and scenario-based activities. Participants will be extended both physically and mentally, and a good fitness level is required.

Dates for the next SAR Summit are Friday 13 May to Sunday 15 May 2022, applications are now open.

Search and Rescue (SAR) Summit
SAR Summit1