An emergency distress beacon could be the best protection for
someone in trouble in the bush or on the water, the Rescue
Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) says.
Beacons equipped with GPS could significantly speed up the
rescue of people in distress, centre operational support
manager Rodney Bracefield said.
''They really do take the search out of search and rescue,
but the numbers show that registering your beacon is a key
part of the process,'' Mr Bracefield said.
''It's a legal requirement and it's free, and this enables
the RCCNZ to call emergency contacts who can provide valuable
information about a trip.''
Of the 307 beacons activated in New Zealand's search and
rescue region in 2013, only 42%, or 127, were used in
The other 58% were attributed to false alerts or inadvertent
''If the beacon is registered, the first call we make is to
the emergency contact to find out if the beacon is being used
by somebody, or it's an accidental activation,'' Mr
''Where a beacon is not registered, all alerts must be
followed up, involving emergency response services and
personnel that may be diverted from an actual emergency.''
• There are an estimated 12,000 unregistered 406MHz beacons
in New Zealand - about 30% of the total. Registration is
free, a legal requirement, and can be completed online at