Our purpose is the commitment to the prevention of drowning and
injury in our aquatic environment, through the provision of
lifeguarding, water safety and education services.
Primarily we do this through the provision of patrols and the
marking the safest swimming area between two red and yellow flags.
We also provide additional services such as Aquatic Risk
Consultancy, Public Education and Support Services to meet this
Our training allows us to operate in the near-shore surf zone
during hours of daylight. This is our specialty and we often plug
the gap between the land and air based rescue services and marine
rescue operators in this unique environment.
Surf Lifeguards are trained to handle most conditions at their
beaches and are extremely competent at performing rescues in the
surf and in the water around coastal rock formations.
We are patrol based, that is we work in teams to perform rescues
safe in the knowledge that we have back-up available. We are not a
24-hour rescue service, although we do have after-hours emergency
response capability, in conjunction with our partners at the
Police, Coastguard and the Rescue Helicopter Services.
Surf lifesaving differs from nearly every other rescue service
by the fact that we proactively patrol rather than react. Most of
the work that we do is preventative, warning people of danger.
When do we operate?
Volunteer patrols are mounted at 17 locations across the
Northern Region, on all weekends and public holidays between Labour
Weekend and April 6th.
Minimum patrol hours of volunteer patrols for
October/November/March/April are 11:00am to 4:00pm on
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. For the months of
December/January/February the minimum patrol hours of volunteer
patrols are 11.00am to 5.00pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public
During the peak summer season Surf Life Saving in
the Northern Region employs lifeguards to patrol our 17
locations Monday-Friday. This is known as the Regional Lifeguard
Service and it is designed to augment volunteer patrols by
providing coverage throughout the week. This is typically for 8
weeks from mid December to late January/early February.
Lifeguard training and equipment
Lifeguards have the capability to perform extraordinary rescues.
We are physically fit and regularly up-skill to perform the role of
the lifeguard. We employ the most advanced and up-to-date
technology and systems to support the delivery of our service.
Our basic rescue unit is the Surf Lifeguard with a rescue
tube and swim-fins. A rescue tube is a flexible red neoprene
floatation device used for wrapping around a patient and clipping
them in. A short length of rope separates the tube from a webbing
strap that is worn by the lifeguard. Rescues are made by securing,
then towing the patient to shore using swim fins, surf and
This method of rescue is very common and very effective for
shorter range rescues or those that must be performed close to
rocks or areas that other rescue methods either cannot access.
Inflatable Rescue Boats - IRB's
Our other major rescue technique involves two lifeguards
and a 3.8m inflatable rescue boat (or IRB). These craft are powered
by a modified 30 horsepower outboard engine and the fuel cell is a
flexible bladder of 20 litres capacity allowing these craft to
operate in the surf for approximately one hour at a time.
IRBs are designed to operate inshore on short trips in and
around the surf zone during the hours of daylight and are equipped
with a rescue tube, knife and two paddles. If capsize occurs, the
crew is trained to right the craft and `surf' it in to shore. These
craft can perform rescues very close to rock formations and be
driven in very large seas.
Rescue Water Craft (Rescue Jet-skis)
These versatile and fast rescue craft enable lifeguards
to rapidly access remote and isolated locations and operate in huge
surf and challenging weather. They are crewed by a two-person crew
and are outfitted with a full range of rescue and first aid
Rescue Helicopter Services
Lifeguards train and patrol with rescue helicopter
services. A lifeguard crews the Westpac Rescue
Helicopter as a "specialist lifeguard". Co-operation between
lifeguard patrols and the helicopter services are essential for
search and rescue and patient evacuation.
Our lifeguards are extensively trained in:
- surf rescue
- first aid / emergency care
- helicopter operations
- rescue boat operation
- radio communications
Surf Com (Surf Life Saving Communications
Surf Life Saving in the Northern Region owns one of the largest
private radio networks in the southern hemisphere, covering and
linking by repeater-network all of our services. We use radios to
communicate with each other and with emergency services. At all
times that patrols are mounted on the beaches there is a SurfCom
Coordinator monitoring transmissions from the Auckland Marine
Rescue Centre at Mechanics Bay. This person liaises between Surf
Life Saving and other services and provides a `safety net' and
advisory service for lifeguards at the beach.