Become a Lifeguard

To become a lifeguard requires a number of skills and attributes

To become a lifeguard requires a number of skills and attributes, most important of which are a positive outlook and a ‘can do’ attitude! There are some specific requirements that can be developed along with your surf lifeguard instructor, as they lead you through your Surf Lifeguard Award – the minimum requirement to patrol New Zealand beaches.

Our SLA training program aims to develop a candidate’s fundamental beach management, beach, rescue and first aid skills to become a competent lifeguard on patrol. Training is undertaken both in the pool and at Piha beach.

The ONLY intakes for this patrolling season have the exam dates Oct 5th and Nov 2nd. Please email the Chief Instructor ( for details. Training for the first exam kicks off Sept 4th. Registrations are open now and must be done prior to the start of training.

Pre requisites:

  • Minimum age of 14 years before the date of the exam
  • Financial member of Piha SLSC (SLSNZ member)
  • Be able to confidently swim 400m freestyle in under 9 minutes-no stops
  • Attendance to the 6 instructing sessions run by Piha SLSC
  • Attendance to 2 exam sessions run by Surf Life Saving Northern Region

Equipment needed:

  • Surf Fins (no clips)
  • Wetsuit

The New Zealand Surf Lifeguard Award is assessed in several sections.
The requirements are:

  • 400m timed pool swim (confident single stroke i.e. freestyle non-stop under 9 mins)
  • Competent demonstration ofTows, releases and tube rescue in pool environment
  • Workbook completed and handed in
  • Written theory test covering beach management, first aid, emergency response & Lifeguarding skills as covered in the current Surf Lifeguards Manual
  • Practical assessment of CPR
  • Practical and theoretical assessment of basic First Aid
  • Practical assessment of Signals and radio knowledge
  • 200m Run – 200m Swim – 200m Run (beach) in under 9 minutes
  • Tube rescue with fins of a patient in surf
  • On beach assessment of Primary survey and recovery position of a patient

Once you register your interest with the clubs chief instructor you will be provided with the relevant information re “where to from here” and added to the next intake group. please note that the Piha SLSC does two main intakes each season: one in Sept/October and the other in March/April. each session runs over the course of approximately one month. Providing you pass all components at the exams you will be awarded your Surf Lifeguards Award and then be assigned to a patrol. All Lifeguards refresh every season prior to the start of patrols.

Rookie Lifeguards…

The Rookie Lifeguard Programme has been designed to help junior surf members prepare to be a Surf Lifeguard. The Rookie Lifeguard Programme aims to promote “practical lifeguarding” to the younger members and develop strong ties between senior and junior members as a result of involvement.

The target audience for this programme is 13 year old junior surf members wishing to become a Surf Lifeguard next season.

A Day In The Life…

On a normal weekend, patrols run from 10am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Every patrol has a Patrol Captain (P.C.), who is responsible for the smooth running of the patrol, setting up of the flagged area and general patrol operations. Each patrol will consist of a mixture of experienced and new members with a wide range of skills.

The first thing a patrol will do is set up the flagged area. Once this is done the P.C will direct beach patrols (patrolling the flags) and roaming patrols using the quad bikes or 4WD vehicle. Patrol members will rotate between responsibilities, keeping themselves active. Here at Piha SLSC we are focused on a proactive approach; preferring to carry out preventative actions (dealing with problems before they arise) rather than rescues.

Piha is a unique lifeguarding environment. The popularity of Piha means guards require good inter-personal skills and need to be able to relate to all sections of the community.

At the end of a long day on the beach, the Club has a bar & restaurant which is open to members & the public nightly over the peak summer period. The surf club has its own accommodation for members to stay in, and guards use this almost constantly over the summer. Along with a relaxing private (not open to the public) lounge with cooking facilities.

Continuing Education

Some lifeguards are content to achieve their Surf Lifeguard Award, and provided they are ‘refreshed’ each season, continue to patrol the beach for many years. There are however, several opportunities to continue improving and broadening your skill base in several different directions.

Many of the qualifications available to lifeguards are now consistent with the NZ qualifications framework, meaning they are nationally recognised and transferable into many employment situations. Indeed skills such as first aid, leadership and incident management are highly sought after by employers.

For more information please contact our Chief Instructor –

Life guards
Life guards IRB
Life guards beach
Life guards surf

Surf Patrols

Surf Club Patrols are rostered Saturdays, Sundays and public Holidays from Labour Weekend through to Easter.
Patrols start at 10:00 am through to till at least 17:00 – later if conditions are great.
In addition regional guards will be patrolling through the busy Summer months (Dec-Jan).

Please follow instructions of the lifeguards on patrol. Remember to always SWIM BETWEEN THE FLAGS.

Please note that during winter, there are no patrols at Piha.

If an emergency situation arises when no lifeguards are present, dial 111 and ask for Police.