Being a volunteer with Wakatipu SAR is demanding but equally rewarding. 


We require Admin Unit volunteers who support the Incident Management Team. The Admin Unit uses leading incident management software to collect and manage information, but must also have the capability to operate offline. The Admin Unit also operates the base communications systems, which include radios (VHF and HF), satellite comms and satellite trackers.

The Incident Management Team plans and manages a search and rescue operation. It is not normally open to new recruits as it is led by the police and staffed by highly experience search and rescue practitioners.

In addition, we have a Support Unit. These vital team members support the group through the provision of catering, logistics, equipment management and fund raising.

Our WanderSearch Team supports people living in the community who are at risk of going missing to live healthy active lifestyles.

The Alpine Cliff Rescue team provides our search and rescue capability in high alpine and technical terrain.

Sub Alpine team operates throughout our operational area, from urban through to mountainous terrain.

The Committee provides governance and strategic direction to the combined group.

Please be aware we are interested in members who are able to demonstrate a commitment to the group, and to the local area. Training and equipping team members requires a lot of resources and the dedication of our training team.

We are also keen to hear from volunteers who have experience in the use of communications systems or drones. If you are interested in becoming a Search Dog handler, you should visit https://www.searchdogs.co.nz/ and note that you should first be an operational field team member before being considered as a dog handler.



A potential field team volunteer should have the appropriate backcountry skills, knowledge and experience to operate safely in a search and rescue environment, along with a commitment to learn. We can train you from there.

All LandSAR volunteers, irrespective of their role, 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.

If you become a field team member, you will be expected to attend 75% of all training nights in the first year. From the 1st year onwards, you should attend 50% training nights. Every year you should attend at least one SAREX (SAR exercises) and at least one course/refresher.

Each role trains regularly. The sub alpine team trains the most frequently, holding training sessions every fortnight on a Thursday.


To be useful on a typical SAR operation, all field team members need to be fit enough to keep moving in rough country for at least 8 hours at a time, at times carrying heavy loads and possibly a stretcher.

Some roles, such as WanderSearch, Admin Unit and Support Unit, 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.


Field Team volunteers must provide food, clothing and equipment for their own personal needs. LandSAR Field Team volunteers should pack enough food/drink for at least 24 hours. Field Team 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.

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