Central Otago Search and Rescue

Field Operations Searcher

Organisation Summary

Central Otago Search and Rescue (COSAR) is a registered charity and is affiliated to NZ LandSAR.  COSAR relies solely on donations, fundraising and volunteers to actively work in Search and Rescue.  Our home area is Central Otago, but we do assist other areas as and when required.

We are a small but dedicated group of volunteers, who are available when called out by the Police to search for and rescue lost people in our area, which includes anything from searching in town, along the Rail Trail, along our rivers to searching in our vast back country area.  We also sent a team to Christchurch after the earthquake in February 2011.

Any section of the community may be a user of our services.  We often have searches for persons with alzheimers or dementia, hunters, trampers, persons using the great outdoors, children and young people, despondent persons.

Our group relies on radio communications and a radio tracking system and there are volunteer positions available for field operational persons as well as volunteers interested in working on the radios and non-field positions.


Searching and tracking for lost or missing persons in the field and providing basic first aid if necessary.

Time Commitment:

In Alexandra there is one training night per month, plus about 3-4 one-day training courses and 1-2 weekends per year, plus 2-3 days on searches. 

Callouts may occur anytime (day or night), so volunteers should be willing and able to attend most of these within normal lifestyle restrictions.  COSAR average about 1 callout each month, but there are less over winter months.

Skills required: 

  • Minimum age 18 years
  • A willingness to work alongside and engage with the Police in a positive manner
  • To be useful on a typical SAR operation, you need to be fit enough to keep moving in rough country for 8 hours at a time. Stamina rather than speed is a pre-requisite.  Some search tasks, however, require only low levels of fitness so don’t be put off if you think you are not fit enough.  
  • A potential volunteer should have the appropriate backcountry skills and a commitment to learn.  Plus the ability to work in a team and to stick to task.
  • You must be prepared to go out at any time and sometimes in adverse weather conditions
  • A First aid qualification is needed or volunteers must willing to gain this through training
  • Experience 4 wheel driving and navigating in Central Otago locations advantageous but not essential.
  • Access to own vehicle (some reimbursement available) helpful but not essential.

Skills gained:

All LandSAR volunteers undergo training and maintain a training programme to ensure LandSAR groups possess the range of professional skills, local knowledge of terrain and conditions, and experience for search and rescue incidents in their locality and region.

Volunteers also gain teamwork experience, search methods, tracking  and clue awareness skills, radio communications, 4 wheel driving, first aid, operating safely in the outdoors.

For more information please also check our website www.landsar.org.nz

Schedule Summary

This activity generally occurs on

  • Monday - All Day
  • Tuesday - All Day
  • Wednesday - All Day
  • Thursday - All Day
  • Friday - All Day
  • Saturday - All Day
  • Sunday - All Day