Coastguard Bay of Islands celebrates official opening of new Opua base

After a summer interrupted by poor weather, Coastguard Bay of Islands have come together to celebrate the opening of its new Opua base on Saturday. Led by Te Aupouri, the official blessing ceremony represents a significant step for search and rescue in Northland.

In November last year, the unit moved from its Kerikeri base to the old general store in Opua to enable volunteers to respond more efficiently to emergency calls on the water. Partnering with Coastguard New Zealand, the new base also doubles as a Northland-based rescue centre and education hub for boating education and community outreach projects such as Day Skipper and Boatmaster courses. The centre will also be used for volunteer training for units across Northland, removing the need to travel south down to Auckland.

Despite the inclement weather, this past summer has been a particularly busy one for Coastguard Bay of Islands and reinforced their decision to move closer to the bustling boating area. Volunteers have responded to countless incidents since moving to Opua including the collision between a pleasure boat and a ferry, rescuing a woman from Urupukapuka Island after medical emergency and coming to the aid of five people after their boat capsized at Cape Brett. The unit last year responded to 75 incidents, rescuing nine people and assisting 171 people home safely. In total, volunteers contributed 1,720 hours to Coastguard.


Coastguard Bay of Islands President Phil Snowdon said the unit is delighted with the new base and have welcomed numerous new volunteers since the move. 

“It’s been a really big summer for us on the water, with volunteers responding to a wide variety of incidents. Having our rescue vessel right next to the base has made a massive difference and connected us with the community like never before,” he said.  

Coastguard New Zealand CEO Callum Gillespie said the establishment of Northland-based rescue centre and education hub is critical for a region that loves getting out on the water and enjoying everything the moana has to offer. 

“We know access to education and skills is a key factor in people making good decisions on the water and understanding what to do when things so wrong. Coastguard remains committed to improving water outcomes for underserved communities especially in Northland which has some of the worst drowning statistics across Aotearoa,” he said. 

“It’s also awesome that our Northland-based volunteers can undertake their training closer to home, instead of travelling south to Auckland.” 

More information about Coastguard Boating Education courses in Opua can be found here: Day Skipper, Boatmaster & boating education courses | Coastguard Boating Education 

Upcoming Day Skipper courses: 

  • Sat 16 & Sun 17 September 2023 
  • Sat 9 & Sun 10 December 2023 

Upcoming Maritime VHF Operator Certificate courses: 

  • Sun 20 October 2023 
  • Sun 17 December 2023 

Coastguard Bay of Islands are also still seeking new volunteers to join their crew. If you’re interested in learning about volunteering with Coastguard, click here. 


About Coastguard

  • Coastguard is a charity powered by over 2,000 volunteers in communities around New Zealand.
  • Coastguard receives 30% of its funding from central government. The other $18 million is raised each year through the support of members, donors, funders and corporate partners.
  • Last year Coastguard volunteers gave 273,269 hours to keeping New Zealanders safe on the water.
  • Volunteer crew on rescue vessels, in our search aircraft and on the end of the radio have been dedicated to saving lives for over 150 years.

For more information, contact: 
Ben Parsons 
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor 
[email protected]  

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