About Us

Coastguard Tautiaki Moana - We’re for boaties, whatever your waka

Who we are

Coastguard Tautiaki Moana is Aotearoa New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue organisation, powered by volunteers, enabled by staff. Our vision is to help everyone get the best out of their time on the water, safely and with confidence.

Last year our 2,000+ volunteers gave their time to help bring 6,300 people home safely to dry land - from Houhora to Bluff and across the oceans, major rivers and lakes of our beautiful country. Whatever their waka of choice, be it a boat, jet ski, or kayak, we’re side by side with all water-users, no matter the situation. 

Our volunteers are based at 63 Coastguard Units: 

  • 59 Units crewing 100 rescue vessels and rescue craft providing services to water-users, positioned in strategic locations around the coast and on major lakes and rivers, from Houhora in the north to Bluff in the south. 
  • 2 air patrol Units based in Auckland and Northland who pilot two search and rescue aircraft providing our eyes in the sky. 
  • 2 dedicated Operations Centres in Auckland and Mount Maunganui where highly trained volunteers and staff lead search and rescue incidents and routine breakdowns as well as take trip reports, broadcast weather conditions and monitor various VHF channels across New Zealand. 

We closely collaborate with government-led search and rescue services like the Police and the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ). Together, we ensure a joint effort to coordinate major marine rescues, working hand in hand to keep everyone safe on the water. 

When we’re not helping on the water, we’re helping off it, providing the know-how to keep people safe and informed. Our Education and Community Engagement team are the leading providers of boating courses throughout Aotearoa, offering courses to suit all abilities, water-users and training pathways.

As water safety advocates, we’re committed to reducing preventable watercraft drownings. We do this by sharing all we know through education, community engagement, awareness campaigns, and by teaming up with like-minded partners across the water safety sector. 

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 New Zealanders need them most. 

We’re an organisation that has never stood still. With over two million keen water-users (and growing) out there, we’re committed to being more approachable, friendly and more relevant to all New Zealanders, regardless of their background or experience on the water. Click here to learn more about our new story and focus for the future.

A proud history born from saving lives on the water 

Our national office was formed in 1976 to bring what were diverse and varied search and rescue operations under one banner. In 1986, this name was updated to the ‘Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation’ when the charity granted Royal Patronage, with Prince Charles (now King Charles III) as Patron. 

In 2020, all four regional Coastguard entities fully unified with Coastguard New Zealand creating a stronger and better resourced national organisation. Based in four locations around the motu (country), the national office provides funding, governance, operational, administrative, communications and marketing support to the whole organisation. 

As we continue our journey to embrace and honour Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview), we've taken a significant step by embracing our ingoa (name) 'Tautiaki Moana.' This decision holds immense significance for us, stemming from the gracious taonga (gift) presented to us by Te Arawa iwi in August 2021. Being entrusted with our Māori name is an extraordinary privilege that deeply influences our daily actions, our new visual identity, and the way we share our story into the future.

Our name explains the actions we take to ensure that with our help everyone can enjoy Aotearoa New Zealand's waters safely and with confidence. It's a promise that we’ll continue to strengthen our ties with Māori, be valued treaty partners and ensure that we always apply a Te Ao Māori lens to our mahi.

The difference we've made in the last year

Saving lives on the water since ages ago 

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 highly trained and skilled 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. 

We spend many hundreds of thousands of hours on search and rescue missions, radio operations, training, administration and maintenance each year. Whether it's giving great advice as people head out or helping them when they get in a spot of bother, we are side by side with people on the water, whatever their waka.

We’re all about compassion and camaraderie, willingly exchanging the comfort of home or paid jobs to lend a helping hand when it's needed most. Keen to find your crew? Find out more about our volunteers. 

A boatie’s best mate 

Around 70% of the incidents we help with involve non-urgent assistance. Having a problem on the water like a dodgy engine or running out of fuel can be a hassle but with a Coastguard Membership you’ve got peace of mind every time you hit the water, knowing we’ve got your back. 

No matter if you break down, get a flat battery, or are out with the family when one of the kids get sick, rest assured one of our rescue vessels, crewed by our trained volunteers, will turn up and do all they can to get you home in one piece, free of charge. Your Coastguard Membership means we’re here to help when you need us, and help you get the best out of your time on the water. 

It takes a crew to save a life 

As a registered charity, our mission to save lives on the water depends on the people of New Zealand. Our dedicated volunteers, who brave all weather conditions year-round, rely mainly on donations for funding as government support is limited.

Two-thirds (66%) of our funding comes from donations, lotteries, memberships, sponsorships, and grants, amounting to a significant contribution. The remaining one-third (34%) comes from government assistance, which is also crucial for our search and rescue operations. Click here to learn about ways to donate.

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