Search and Rescue

Police coordinates Category One searches (land, inland waterways, subterranean and close-to-shore). The Rescue Coordination Centre coordinates Category Two searches (aircraft, off-shore and emergency locator beacons).

Police manages nearly 2,000 land and marine search and rescue incidents each year.

Officers in each police district are trained as search and rescue (SAR) coordinators. They work with volunteer groups such as:

  • Coastguard New Zealand
  • New Zealand Defence Force
  • local rescue helicopters
  • Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC)
  • New Zealand Land Search and Rescue

Category One searches

Category One searches are coordinated by Police at a local level. They usually involve local resources and people who are familiar with the area. These searches include:

  • land searches
  • subterranean searches (for missing cavers)
  • river, lake and inland waterway searches
  • close-to-shore marine searches - usually within New Zealand territorial waters (12 nautical miles).

Category Two searches

Category Two searches are coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand. They usually require the use of national or international resources and may involve coordination with other countries. These searches include:

  • searches for missing aircraft or aircraft in distress
  • off-shore marine searches within New Zealand's search and rescue region
  • searches for emergency locator beacons that have been activated.

Websites relating to search and rescue