Cave Search and Rescue Volunteer

First and foremost you are a caver; comfortable spending time underground. This extends to the physical or technical nature of the cave or karst environment we may be searching or undertaking a rescue in. There are also important above ground roles which cavers can support – for example technical logistics, incident management team or communications.

Local Land Search and Rescue groups assist with some of the non caving aspects of this.

Our volunteers possess the personal caving experience, skills and equipment appropriate for the cave or karst environment and the ability and additional energy to carry and deploy additional equipment and undertake tasks beyond your personal caving needs.

As a minimum being “bush fit”, mentally and physically prepared to operate for 12 hours away from support. Dependant on the nature of the cave or karst search and rescue operation, this requirement could extend to several days and nights. Logistical support is awkward and for much of a rescue you will be relying on what your team has taken in and your resourcefulness to make this equipment and the environment work to your advantage.

Commitment, Training & Equipment

Cave Search & Rescue volunteers are called upon to conduct search and rescue operations at any time of the day or night. You, your whānau, and your employer should all be comfortable with this possibility.

The frequency and duration of training will depend on your local group, up to several times a year including the occasional 2 or 3 day exercise.

We would like to provide our volunteers with all the equipment they need to perform their role. However, equipping volunteers is expensive, and there are occasions where groups are unable to provide all the equipment necessary. Your local group will be able to explain what equipment, if any, you may need to possess.

Join a caving club and get caving, and then speak with them about becoming a member of CaveSAR.


Role Description

Cave search and rescue is provided through the New Zealand Speleological Society (NZSS).

Searching for lost persons and rescuing injured persons in cave or karst environments is highly specialised and has significant challenges. The nature of the environment often causes prolonged operations involving large numbers of CaveSAR volunteers.

Register your Interest


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.

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Land Search and Rescue acknowledges the huge commitment made by the whānau of our volunteers. Without family support, many of our volunteers would be unable to dedicate their time. Please share this information with your whānau.

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Ready to play your part?

Get in touch with your local Land Search & Rescue group…

Register your Interest

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