Search & Rescue (SAR)


The beach provides the single most significant access to water for the New Zealand public. The NZSAR recreational report identified that 69% of all New Zealanders visited a beach at least once during the year the report was conducted. However, 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 purpose “To lead and support Surf Lifesaving in New Zealand in partnership with its Clubs” seeks to continually minimise the inherent risk in the coastal environment. By supporting the Clubs to develop and maintain their Search and Rescue Squads, countless lives have been saved and families left intact as a result of the fantastic work the SAR squads carry out in 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, helping save those in peril or recovering those who have been lost at sea.

The SAR squads primarily consist of several Surf Life Saving 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.  

Download the Lifesaving and Search & Rescue Strategic Plan

Download the map of our Search & Rescue Squad Locations

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.


2024 SAR Summit

Applications are now open for the 2024 Search & Rescue Summit. 

Click here
86.png (1)

SAR Summit Working Group 2023

The National Search & Rescue - Working Group has vacant positions within the working group and wishes to invite new members to help with the continued development of the Summit. The Summit seeks to enhance the search and rescue capability in SLSNZ by offering our top SAR squad members the opportunity to come together to share ideas and learn from each other.


SAR Summit1

SLSNZ Flood/River Search & Rescue Project

In 2015 following a significant deployment of assets during the Edgecumbe floods, SLSNZ undertook due diligence in its responsibility to its members during such events. Coupled with lessons learnt from Edgecumbe and collaboration with other similar organisations internationally during this process, the draft strategy below was developed.

The National Flood Working Group has since adopted this and consider it the road map for all work undertaken by SLSNZ to date.