Tracking Core Skills

This course provides an introduction to tracking for SAR field team members. Observational skills are developed, so that sign or clues can be found.

Students learn about the sign left by people as they travel through the environment, and develop tracking skills to follow an individual in the wilderness. They learn about the use of tracking sticks and using a light source to help with the tracking process. Students also learn about the importance of processing a clue site correctly, so that they gain the maximum information from it.

This course covers the theory of the topics, but also gives students plenty of field based skills practice. Some pre course is required but there is no post course work.

Processing Wilderness Clue Sites

In this third tracking course, students are expected to have knowledge and field experience of the skills taught in the previous courses.

This course teaches the skills necessary to deduct the subject's likely physical and mental condition and equipment carried and then make search decisions based on these deductions. Emphasis is placed on identifying, analysing and processing clue sites in wilderness environments such as camp sites, fire sites, washing and water collection points.

This is fundamentally a practical course with students developing skills previously gained and extending those skills through the application of new theory and practice in the field with the assistance of expert tutors. Some pre course is required but there is no post course work.

Search Techniques

The factors which affect the search for a person or object are explored, allowing students to become more aware of environmental and personal reasons that would affect their searching.

Lost person behaviour is examined for various categories of people, this leads to the development of particular search strategies for different types of lost people. As in a real SAR operation, students work in groups practicing and refining a number of well-known best-practice techniques for searching. Specific techniques for both day and night searching, as well as for different environments, are covered. 

Tracking in a Wilderness Environment 

This is the second in the tracking courses for SAR field team members. It develops the important skill of sign "cutting" - how to locate sign, determine its age and evaluate its relevance.

They also learn how to apply decision pointing in the field, identifying specific places where there might be sign or clues. 

Searching the Suburban Environment 

This course is specifically designed to enable students to safely participate in suburban searches and understand basic theory and legislation behind such operations.

Lost person behaviour is explored and applied in the context of suburban search. Likely subject profiles are examined in detail. Considerable emphasis is placed on team work. Suburban search methods are explored in detail, and practices and procedures to maximise POD are explored. This is a practical field based course with a strong theoretical component. An intensive two days involving both day and night searches for a range of likely subjects. 

Some pre course is required but there is no post course work.

Foundation Rope Rescue

This course is intended for all backcountry SAR personnel. It covers safely and efficiently operating rope rescue systems and stretcher handling in a low angle environment.

Knots anchors and pulley systems suitable for use on slopes of up to 30 degrees are explored. The use and construction of edge kits is covered along with personal safety and hazard management.

Vertical Rope Rescue

A course specifically designed for SAR personnel operating in difficult terrain and vertical environments.

Multi point anchor systems, compound pulley systems, vector forces, risk analysis and management and specialist rope rescue systems are all covered. Difficult rescue situations are explored from a theoretical and practical perspective, with and without stretcher bound patients. Working as a rope rescue team member and the various roles involved are explained and practiced.

Advanced Rope Rescue

This course is designed for Rescue Team Members, Leaders and Instructors wanting to receive the most advanced level of Rope Rescue Training available in New Zealand.

It focuses on expanding your rope rigging skills and understanding to achieve seemingly complex tasks. Team roles will be studied with the aim of greater efficiency of rescue.

Pre-requisites: Short Award in Back Country Rope Rescue or equivalent knowledge and skills.

Swift Water – Basic

A course for all emergency personnel who may encounter or respond to a river or flood generated rescue incident.

Basic hydrology, equipment, river crossings and swimming, throw bag use, entrapment and strainer drills, spinal rolls, tethered boats and zip lines are all covered from a theoretical and practical perspective.


Designed for “shiny” four-wheel-drive vehicles, this two day course covers hazard awareness, driving a four-wheel drive in an off-road and on-road environment, and water crossings.

This is not an extreme course, but will provide an appropriate level of challenge and experience to prepare new drivers. Participants are required to supply their own vehicle, which must have a current Warrant of Fitness and registration. Preferably there will be only one participant per vehicle. If you have a current full New Zealand driver’s license, you are eligible to take Four Wheel Drive Training.

Bush Craft One and Two Day

These courses are fantastic for those wanting to improve their skills in the core areas of navigation and river crossing. They involve a lot of practical skills mixed with applied theory.

They were designed to be a very flexible courses to meet the needs of local groups.

This course focuses on poor and good visibility navigation, including GPS, river crossing and communication.

Manage the Initial Response – Land

This course prepares the student to participate in an Incident Management team during the initial response phase of a Search and Rescue operation including operational pre-planning; conducting search urgency assessments; collecting information for the initial response; applying lost person behavior theory during an initial response period; applying reflex tasking; establishing and confining the initial search area; applying decision pointing; and assigning search and rescue resources during the initial response period. Students will develop an understanding of lost person behavior and how it affects the search planning process. This is a challenging three day course that involves theory and considerable scenario based practice. Some pre course work is required but there is no post course work.

Manage the Initial Response – Marine

Marine Manage the Initial Response is a newly developed course that has been introduced into the search and rescue sector. This course is the foundation block for incident management in a marine environment. The course takes participants through the procedures to be followed from the onset of the notification and includes chart course plotting, wind speed/direction and drift patterns pertaining to different vessels/people in the water. It also teaches about coordination of assets and drives home the importance of managing an incident by objectives, with a number of Incident Action Plans being produced. Importantly to keep the course as real as possible the interactive scenarios are real life ones that are occurred locally (NZ) with minor adaptations.

This course has been established for members of the search and rescue sector who get involved with an incident on the water.

Outdoor Risk Management

This course is aimed at Team Leaders, Incident Management Team members, Group Training Officers and anyone responsible for the safety of SAR personnel.

Students are introduced to the LandSAR Safety Management System, risk management theory and practical tools that can be put to practice in the field.

All participants will get the opportunity throughout the course to practice safety while leading a team during outdoor scenarios.

Personal Rope Access

Skills acquired on the course are essential for an aspiring ACR, Cave Rescue or Advanced Swift Water Rescue Technicians. They are skills that are not usually acquired through rock climbing and mountaineering activities. Students are required to have at least 80 hours logged experience with ropes; i.e. climbing, rope rigging, rope rescue or related activities.

This course covers all aspects of personal movement on a rope.


Students who complete this course are able to describe the interrelated functions of the coordinated incident management system (CIMS) model, the incident controller’s responsibilities at an incident, and the role and function of the operations manager, the planning/intelligence manager, and the logistics manager at an incident.

SAR Leadership

This course (SAR113) is designed to provide existing and aspiring team leaders and managers with skills and knowledge to help lead small teams to achieve critical tasks often in remote and hazardous terrain. The course combines theory sessions on leadership, group process, conflict resolution and feedback with plenty of time to put it all into action in the field.

Training for Delivery

Course students will learn how to prepare for, deliver and review training sessions within their organisation. It will teach them how to maintain a positive learning environment to maximize student learning.

The course is a mix of theory and practical with each student preparing and delivering a short teaching session during the course.


This is a Safety Sensitive Programme