Why get and register a beacon?

It could save your life. . .

 A beacon might be the only method you have to alert emergency services in your time of need. Activating a distress beacon alerts authorities to your situation and allows them to start planning a response.

It will help you. . .

Carrying a beacon will give you the peace of mind that, if you get into trouble, rescue services are contactable, even in remote areas.

It will help us. . .

Having access to your details and registered emergency contacts allows us to obtain more information and better direct resources to you, it might save someone else’s life!

It is the law. . .

New Zealand Radio Regulations require devices  such as 406 MHz beacons  to be registered. This means if you own a NZ coded beacon it must be registered with the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand. This is free and easy to do.

Choose the right type of beacon

Beacons come with a variety of features for activation in an emergency, although most can be activated manually by pressing a button. When purchasing your beacon, we recommend that it has an in-built global positioning system (GPS) as this will assist in providing an accurate position of your location.

There are three types of 406MHz distress beacons designed for different environments;

  • PLB - Personal Locator Beacons are designed to be carried by individuals or in vehicles, and only activate manually. Different models of PLB have different activation and deployment features, so you should evaluate your needs and the situations you will use it in carefully.

  • EPIRB - Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons are designed for use in vessels.
    Depending on the model, EPIRBs can be activated manually or can activate automatically on contact with water. Some EPIRBs are designed to sit inside a bracket but automatically float free if the vessel sinks.
  • ELT - Emergency Locator Transmitters are designed for use in aircraft and to activate automatically following a crash.

Other emergency alerting devices:

  • SEND – Satellite Emergency Notification Devices allow users to send and receive messages. Rescue Coordination Centre NZ are not the registering agent for these devices. Please read your owners manual for more information.

In all cases ensure you know how your beacon works and what is required to test it as per the manufacturer's instructions and operate it in the case of an emergency situation.

Advances in distress beacon capabilities

Beacons with Return Link Service (RLS) are already here, and those with Second Generation Beacon (SGB) technology arriving soon. What are these new capabilities, and what do they mean for SAR in New Zealand?

Read here for more information

Choose a New Zealand coded beacon

Every beacon is coded to its country of origin, and while they can be used worldwide, beacons can only be registered in the country it is coded to.

Your beacon should be a ‘New Zealand coded beacon’ – this includes some Pacific Island nations. Having your beacon coded to New Zealand means that your emergency information is held by RCCNZ which can speed up the response time of emergency services.

Beware of Australian-coded beacons sold online in New Zealand by ensuring you ask the seller what country the unit is coded for, otherwise you will have to register your beacon in the country of origin. 

  • For more advice on choosing a beacon, visit the Cospas-Sarsat website
  • To find out what country your beacon is coded to, please search here