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International Lifeguards

Frequently asked questions by International Lifeguards:

 About Surf Life Saving Northern Region:

All Surf Lifesaving in New Zealand falls under the umbrella of Surf Lifesaving New Zealand (SLSNZ). Within this umbrella are 4 Regional entities that aid in the management of the individual surf lifesaving clubs. A surf lifesaving club is an individual organisation that provides lifesaving services at their individual beach to standards set by SLSNZ and the regional entity they belong to.

We are Surf Lifesaving Northern Region (SLSNR); we are unique in comparison to the other regions as we have our own governance Board of Directors and are our own organisation within the SLSNZ umbrella. Therefore are not directly managed by SLSNZ like the other regions (although we adhere to SLSNZ standards and are strongly affiliated). SLSNR is the largest of the Surf Life Saving regions in New Zealand in terms of population, and we employ the largest number of Lifeguards accordingly. The Northern Region covers the area of Auckland to the Far North, and as far south as Raglan on the west coast. We have staff based in Auckland that supports the 17 clubs in the region. 

Q. Is my qualification recognised in New Zealand?

A. SLSNZ currently only recognises Surf Life Saving Australia's Bronze Medallion, Surf Life Saving Great Britain's Beach Lifeguard Award and Royal Lifesaving Society UK's National Beach Lifeguard awards as equivalent to a New Zealand Surf Lifeguard award.    In order to be considered for a position as a Paid Lifeguard, you are also required to have a current SLSNZ Recognised First Aid Level 1 (or equivelent)

To find more information regarding the process of recognition of prior learning (RPL)  click here and to apply for RPL click here.

Q. What do I need to be eligible to work in NZ?

A. To be eligable to work in NZ you need to hold the appropriate work visa. For information on this and how to apply  click here
     Additionally, to earn money in NZ you will need an IRD Tax number and a NZ bank account.

Q. What is recognition of prior learning?

A. Recognition of prior learning describes a process used by organizations, training institutions, colleges and universities to evaluate skills and knowledge gained outside the classroom.  These skills and knowledge are then recognised against a set of standards or learning objectives. For example, you may be involved in coaching, have extensive coaching skills and experience for which you have no formal recognition.  To be granted RPL, you need to collect and present evidence that clearly demonstrates you have met or exceeded the requirements of all the learning outcomes on the SLSNZ course or award. To find out more about RPL click here.

Q. My RPL has been approved, what next?

A. Once your RPL has been approved you will need to find a surf club and become a member. To find a list of Northern Region clubs click here.

Q. My Surf Lifeguard award is not recognised by SLSNZ, what do I do?

A. You will need to join a New Zealand surf lifesaving club and complete your New Zealand Surf Lifeguard Award through the club. To find a club click here. The first surf lifeguard exam is on the 25th of September. You must be a New Zealand Lifeguard before you can trial to become a Paid Lifeguard.

Q. How do I apply to become a Paid Lifeguard?

A. Firstly, you need to have a RPL and/or have joined a club and become a New Zealand Lifeguard. Secondly, an application will open on the 29th of August 2016. You will find this on our website. This needs to be completed in full. Next the Paid Lifeguard Supervisor will review the applicants and invite applicants that meet prerequisites to trial.

Q. When is the trial?

A. The Paid Lifeguard Trial will be held on the 29th of October at Piha beach. Please note that if you trial to become a Paid Lifeguard, it does not guarantee you a job as a Paid Lifeguard.

Q. What does the trial involve?

A. The trial begins at a swimming pool where you will complete a 400 meter swim in less than 9 minutes. A time of less than 7 minutes 30 seconds is expected. After this you will complete a 3 kilometre run in less than 20 minutes. A time of less than 18 minutes is expected. After this, you will go to Piha beach to complete a theory test and a 200 metre run, a 600- 1000 metre ocean swim (dependant on the surf conditions), then another 200 metre run. Below is the scoring table:


2016/2017 Assessment Weighting:

Primarily based on previous Paid Lifeguard experience, but also based on qualifications held and volunteer experience


Theory Test

The theory test is a combination of multichoice and short answer questions covering a range of topics including First Aid, IRBs, General Lifesaving Knowledge. The test is one hour long and worth 60 marks, with each correct mark counting for 0.33%


Personality and Attitude Assessment
Conducted through all communications with SLSNR and during the trial process


400m Pool Swim
Fastest applicant receives a full 10%, and this is reduced to the slowest applicant receiving 0%


3km Run
Fastest applicant receives a full 10%, and this is reduced to the slowest applicant receiving 0%


Surf Run Swim Run
Fastest applicant receives a full 15%, and this is reduced to the slowest applicant receiving 0%, applicants who trial out of region are moderated to a maximum of 7.5



Q. I passed my trial and was offered a job as a Paid Lifeguard, what's next?

A. As part of the online application you were asked what induction date you would prefer to attend, either the 25 - 27th of November or the 13 - 15th of December. You must attend one of these induction training sessions as a condition of your employment.

Q. When does the Paid Lifeguard season start?

A. The paid season begins on the 4th of December and will end mid-March. However, the majority of Lifeguards will only be required over the peak season. The peak season operates for six weeks. Please note that only those who trial exceptionally well will receive more than this peak season period work.

Q. Where will I stay while working as a Paid Lifeguard?

A. Most surf lifesaving club houses have accommodation and you will have the option to stay at them. Some beaches do not have club houses, however accommodation will often be provided for you. Please note that any accommodation provided is only provided for periods where you are rostered to work. You can negotiate to stay at your chosen club directly with the club. Accommodation is a privilege not a right.

Q. What beach will I work at?

A. Surf Life Saving Northern Region can have up to 24 beaches operating at one time. These beaches include 90 Mile beach in the Far North to Raglan Beach. You may be posted at any of these beaches from between 3 - 15 weeks. However, you are not guaranteed 15 weeks of work just because you have been offered a job as a Paid Lifeguard.

Q. What other job opportunities are their within Surf Life Saving Northern Region?

A. The Community Education program runs from the 24th of October until mid-April. You will have to complete the same RPL process as the Paid Lifeguard Service; however you will only need to complete this process once. Community Education includes the Beach Education programme, teaching school aged children at the beach, Surf to School, teaching school aged children at their school, City Nippers, teaching children aged 5 - 10 at popular city based beaches where there are no Surf Life Saving Clubs, and Community Events. Please see here for more information about becoming a Community Educator with SLSNR.

Q. Is there an Induction day for Community Education as well?

A. Yes, the Community Education Induction days will be held on the 14th and 28th of October. It is essential that successful applicants attend one of these days.

Q. Can work as a Paid Lifeguard and a Community Educator?

A. Yes, the Community Education program runs earlier and later than the Paid Lifeguard Service so there is a great oportunity to do both roles.