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For anyone heading outdoors, a registered distress beacon is the lifeline that can summon help to your location in a life-threatening situation.

A distress beacon is a small, light-weight device. You raise the aerial, push a button and it transmits a signal via satellites to tell rescuers you need assistance.

In New Zealand, Rescue Coordination Centre NZ responds to all distress beacon activations. They work quickly to find out as many details as they can about who set off the distress beacon and promptly send search and rescue teams to assist.

Types of beacons include:

  • PLBs - Personal Locator Beacons for use on land and during recreational activities.
  • EPIRBs - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons for use in boats and commercial vessels.
  • ELTs - Emergency Locator Transmitters for use in aircraft.
  • SENDs – Satellite Emergency Notification Devices allow users to send and receive messages.

A distress beacon lets you instantly signal for help and they work almost anywhere in the world. The beacon shows rescuers your approximate location, taking the ‘search’ out of search and rescue. The sooner rescuers can help you, the more likely you are to survive.

Hire or buy

Distress beacons are widely used in New Zealand with over 100,000 in circulation with an estimated 16,000 new beacons purchased in 2019.

Beacons cost between $300-$500 – a small price to pay to save your life.

Registering your beacon at is fast, easy and free. It’s also required by law. Registration provides searchers with essential information that could save your life.

Register your beacon

Once registered there are no on-going subscription fees.

Hiring is an affordable option if you don’t want to buy. There are hire outlets throughout New Zealand. See the website for a hire place near you: 

Hire or Buy

It’s a personal choice whether to activate a distress beacon. If you or someone else is in a life-threatening situation, set your distress beacon off. Situations can deteriorate rapidly. The sooner you activate it, the faster help can be sent to your location. If you are unsure about when to activate the distress beacon, it is better to activate it and get help!  

Find out more about distress beacons at the website.

Old or obsolete distress beacons need to be disposed of carefully to ensure that they do not get activated accidentally. Return your distress beacon to the retailer where you purchased it, your nearest police station or courier it to Rescue Coordination Centre NZ.

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