About Us

Coastguard New Zealand is the charity saving lives at sea.

Who we are

Coastguard is the charity saving lives at sea. We're on a mission to help Kiwis get the best out of their time on the water, safely and with confidence. Last year Coastguard's 1,963 volunteers gave their time to help bring nearly 8,000 Kiwis back home safely to dry land - from Cape Rēinga to Bluff and across the coastlines, major rivers and lakes of Aotearoa.

We save lives by teaching Kiwis to make the most of our waters through our education programmes and community initiatives, by providing critical marine communications infrastructures and safety and information services.

None of this would be possible without the financial support we receive from our funders, partners, members and donors who generously give to Coastguard so that our volunteers can continue to be there when Kiwis need them most.

The difference we've made in the last year


Volunteering for Coastguard: A way of life

Since the first Coastguard Unit was formed in 1898, Coastguard has been run by volunteers, and that remains the case today. We are hugely proud of our volunteers – an amazing group of people from all communities and walks of life who dedicate a huge amount of their time to keeping kiwis safe on the water.

Coastguard volunteers spend many hundreds of thousands of hours on search and rescue missions, radio operations, training or maintenance work each year. They’re highly trained professional volunteers, so you can be safe in the knowledge that when you call Coastguard for help, you’ll be in expert hands. Find out more about our volunteers.

Our search and rescue volunteers are based at 63 Coastguard 'units': 

  • 59 wet units crewing rescue vessels and providing services to local boaties, positioned in strategic locations around the coast and on major lakes and rivers, from Houhora in the north to Bluff in the south
  • Two air patrol units in Auckland and Northland who piloting search and rescue aircraft
  • Two dedicated communications units in Auckland and Tauranga

Our national office, Royal New Zealand Coastguard Inc, was formed in 1976

It was formed by volunteers, for volunteers, to bring what were diverse and varied search and rescue operations under one banner. Over the years the national office has established common standards and procedures for marine search and rescue in New Zealand.  Also known as Coastguard New Zealand, and with Prince Charles as our Patron, the national office is based in Auckland and provides funding, governance, operational, administrative, communications and marketing support to the whole organisation.

Helping boaties stay safe on the water

In an ideal world, boaties wouldn't encounter difficulties on our lakes, rivers and oceans, but all activities involve risk and amongst other things, boating is influenced by unpredictable marine weather and constantly changing conditions.

Nevertheless, we believe that educating boaties on how to stay safe on the water is of vital importance in keeping kiwis safe. For many years we have been offering popular boating courses through our subsidiary, Coastguard Boating Education. These are accessible to all; and we are proud to draw on years of experience to provide practical advice and guidance for safe boating

Raising funds to keep our service going

Coastguard is a registered charity, and each year we need to raise roughly 70% of our income from individuals, corporate sponsors and trusts. Coastguard operates a national membership scheme for boaties, regular national lotteries, and a range of fundraising activities including a monthly giving club and Coastguardians, a special group of supporters who leave a gift in their Will to save lives at sea.

We cover the remaining 30% of our costs through a service level agreement with the New Zealand government.

Click here to find out how you can get involved.


Donate now

Coastguard is a charity. Our volunteers need your help to save lives at sea.

Donate Now

Become a Member

Peace of mind every time you hit the water, knowing we’ve got your back.

Sign up today

Book a Course

Increase your knowledge and confidence by completing a boating course.

Book a boating course


No matter your skill set, there’s a place for you in the Coastguard whānau.

Join the crew today
Thanks to our life-saving partners:
  • Auckland Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Hutchwilco
  • Marine Deals
  • Tower
  • Kordia
  • Hyundai
  • Line7
  • Century Batteries
  • Half Moon Bay
  • NZCT
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity