Heli rescue


Become a Volunteer

To join LandSAR, Contact your local group

They will want to know all about you and your skills, so you will have to fill in an application form and provide them with a resume of your relevant experience. The process may vary slightly from group to group, but in every case you will be invited to an interview with members of the local group and then asked to submit an application for Search and Rescue Volunteer Security Clearance by the New Zealand Police.

You will most probably be asked to undergo field assessments and if necessary, participate in courses to bring you up to the required standard.

What is expected of a LandSAR volunteer


Group members are expected to maintain their skill levels by attending training and/or assessment activities as stipulated by their Group, to either attain or maintain role competency. The level of this commitment may vary from Group to Group.

You should also spend enough time in the hills to maintain your fitness and general bush craft skills.


All potential volunteer should have the appropriate backcountry skills, knowledge and experience to operate safely in a search and rescue environment, along with a commitment to learning. LandSAR has its own professional training team, so we can train you. All LandSAR volunteers undergo training to attain and maintain role competency to ensure LandSAR groups possess the range of professional skills, local knowledge of terrain and conditions, and experience for search and rescue incidents in their locality and region.


To be useful on a typical bush SAR operation, you need to be fit enough to keep moving in rough country for 8 hours at a time. Stamina rather than speed is a pre-requisite.  Some search tasks, however, require only low levels of fitness so don’t be put off if you think you are not fit enough.  When you apply to join SAR, we will ask you to disclose any medical conditions that you present with and any medication that you are taking.  Please be honest because we ask these questions for your safety, and for the safety of those around you.  Examples of common medical conditions among SAR volunteers include asthma, allergies, diabetes, and impaired vision.  If we need more information, we will consult with you and seek medical or pharmacological advice. You can also ask your GP if you are unsure.


Volunteers must provide food, clothing and equipment for their own personal needs. In addition to the usual outdoor clothing, footwear, storm gear, gloves and headwear, LandSAR volunteers should pack enough food/drink for at least 24 hours.  Volunteers should also be prepared to stay out overnight and are expected to liaise with fellow team members about tents/flys/bivvy bags.


Generally members must be able to either get themselves to the designated assembly area or a transport pick-up point.  Volunteers may also be able to make arrangements to share transport with other members.


Make sure you discuss joining SAR with your employer before signing up.  Some work places allow special leave for SAR operations, others may require you to use your own leave. Discuss the process for notifying your boss when you are called out on a search.


As a member of a LandSAR Group, you are affiliated to New Zealand Land Search and Rescue Incorporated and are entitled to a range of benefits such local and national training, participation in  SAR exercises and operational field days, insurance cover while on Police authorised operations or exercises and discounts with our suppliers and sponsors.  You’ll also enjoy the camaraderie of fellow volunteers, informative SAR newsletters and land search and rescue conferences.   Once a registered member you are issued with a unique member ID which gives you access to the Members Only pages of this website.


What’s it like to save a life

There’s a particular camaraderie that belongs only to those who’ve shared in a challenge to save the life of a fellow human being. It’s an experience that Search and Rescue volunteers know and value. You’ll find yourself stretched, sometimes physically, sometimes mentally. You may find a powerful new meaning to your life as an active contributor in your local community.

What training is provided

LandSAR provides Land Search & Rescue Services by maintaining a trained volunteer organisation. Comprehensive training is given to each volunteer on search methods and tracking techniques, bush craft and outdoor skills, map and compass navigation, survival skills, river crossing & water travel, first aid, communications & technology, helicopter operations and safety issues, ropes and weather patterns and effects.

Training is conducted both at the local group level and at the national level by professional tutors from LandSAR Training

 The LandSAR Field guide is a useful manual for new members.
LandSAR Field Guide 2010


What a weekend with LandSAR is like

Land Search and Rescue runs induction courses for newbie volunteers. Naomi Arnold and Alden Williams of The Nelson Mail sign up to try it out.

“I am curled up in a copse of beech trees, hiding. It’s been raining, and the soil against my cheek smells fresh and sweet. I’m on a search and rescue induction weekend in the Mt Arthur forest, and as it nears 10pm, my group of recruits has decided to embark on a little game of Spotlight.

Earlier, Tasman LandSAR training officer Sherp Tucker explained how the night can be a searcher’s best friend. Lost people will stop in the evening and hunker down, giving searchers a chance to catch up. As the dark creeps in, the world shrinks and their senses will peak. With the closeness that the evening brings, the lost have a better chance of noticing searchers calling through the bush – especially if they’re all waving torches.”

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