Becoming a Lifeguard

Lifeguard Award and Patrol Support

To register or for more information contact

At Omanu Beach SLSC we run our Surf Lifeguard and Patrol Support courses over three weekends which includes your First Aid Level One qualification and exam. You must be 14 years old by the day of the exam to sit the Surf Lifeguard Award or Patrol Support qualification.

You can find the course dates for the current season here

Our team of instructors will teach you everything you need to know to pass your lifeguard exam, and be ready to patrol the beach as a Junior Lifeguard or Patrol Support member.

In order to pass your Surf Lifeguard Award, you will need to be able to swim (pool swim) 400 meters in under 8 minutes and 45secs. If you would like support with swim training, Omanu Beach SLSC has it’s own swim club. Please contact the Omanu Swim Club for more information.

If you are unable to make the pool swim in the required time, you have the option of becoming a Patrol Support member. The Patrol Support qualification allows you to do everything a lifeguard would do (First aid, scanning the beach, communications) except the water components including rescues. Patrol Support members can be a vital asset to our patrols, and often specialise in areas such as first aid and search and rescue operations.

Once you have achieved your Surf Lifeguard Award you will join one of Omanu’s patrol teams and a whole world of opportunities will be available to you.

Becoming a lifeguard is just the first step on the lifeguard pathway. There are many different options for you to upskill and work your way to becoming a senior or advanced lifeguard. There is also the option of becoming a professional lifeguard which can be a great summer job especially for high school and university students. Check out the Lifeguard Development page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am not yet 14, but I will be soon. Can I still complete my Surf Lifeguard Award or Patrol Support qualification?

You can undertake the training for the lifeguard exam while you are still 13 years old. However, you must be 14 by the day of the exam to sit the exam.

What topics are covered in the Lifeguard Award course?

Our team of instructors will teach you everything you need to know to pass your lifeguard award.

Topics include:

  • Surf environment (waves, rips, holes)
  • Roles and Responsibilities of a lifeguard
  • Scanning and Victim Identification
  • First Aid
  • CPR
  • Communication including radios, and signals
  • Rescue techniques
  • Basic surf skills

I need fins, where can I buy them and what sort should I get?

Every lifeguard must have their own pair of fins. Fins are compulsory for the exam and for every patrol once you are a lifeguard.

The short fins with the rubber back straps are the best, as they are the easiest to carry and put on, as opposed to the fins with the full heel. It is also a good idea to not have specific left and right foot fins as in an emergency it can be difficult to work out which foot is which.

Please do not purchase fins that have a plastic strap as these do not last very long.

Also please do not purchase fins, with the idea that your child will grow into them, as if they are too big they will loose them the first time they use them!

Fins can be purchased from most surf shops (some offer a discount to Omanu members) and places like Rebel Sport.

Is there any pre-work? Is there any study I can do to prepare for the course?

There is no pre-work or study that you can do before the course.

Everyone will be given a workbook and manual on the first day of the course. Your workbook will need to be completed as homework and handed in on your examination day.

You only need to make sure you are able to complete the pool requirements (if undertaking the Surf Lifeguard Award).

I already have a First Aid certifcate / qualification, do I need to do the First Aid weekend?

At Omanu, our Lifeguard Award course includes the SLSNZ First Aid Level One qualification. It is highly recommended that all lifeguards hold this qualification to better prepare themselves for common first aid situations whilst on patrol.

The SLSNZ First Aid Level One qualification covers the NZQA Unit Standards 6400, 6401 and 6402 plus Oxygen Theory and drowning. If you hold a 6400 series workplace first aid qualification, you may be able to just complete the surf specific components of the first aid course. If you hold a higher qualification, you may be able to be signed off under the reconition of prior learning pathway. Please contact for more information.

I was a rookie, do I still need to complete the full lifeguard course?


The rookies programme gives you a great introduction to lifeguarding and you will be a little more prepared than some of your other classmates. But you still need to complete the full Surf Lifeguard Award course.

I am not very good at certain skills, like reading and writing, is there any extra support for me?

Absolutely, if there are skills that you struggle with, we will do our best to offer you the support you need.

For example, we can provide a reader/writer for the exam.

Just let us know when you register for the course.

How much time do I need to commit to Omanu if I decide to become a volunteer lifeguard?

At Omanu SLC we have 8 volunteer patrol teams who take turns at patrolling our beach on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer season (about 6 days per patrol each summer) however you are welcome to patrol more days if you wish.

I just want to compete in Surf Sports, do I still need to lifeguard?


Surf sports is a great way to hone your skills so that you can be a better lifeguard. At Omanu Beach SLSC, our competitors have access to great coaches and excellent surf sports equipment (knee boards, surf skis, surf boats).

Being a lifeguard is one way you can give back to your Omanu community for their support with Surf Sports.

Once I am a lifeguard, how do I get allocated to a patrol?

Once you have passed your Surf Lifeguard Award or Patrol Support qualification, you will be allocated to a patrol. You can request to be in a particular patrol and we will do our best to place you in the patrol of your choice. However, sometimes we may need to put you in another patrol to keep numbers even across all patrols.

When do I get my uniform?

Once you have qualified as a lifeguard, Omanu Beach SLSC will supply you with a Lifeguard shirt and shorts. This will be handed out after your exam, or your Patrol Captain will give you one when at the beach. All other uniform pieces (hat, rash shirt, jacket) can be purchased from the office.

The Patrol Support uniform is a blue uniform and this will also be provided for you by the club. If you are manage to complete Surf Lifeguard Award, we ask that you please return your uniform to the club so we can pass it on to the next temporary Patrol Support member.

I have gained the Patrol Support qualification, am I able to complete the Lifeguard Award?

Once you are able to swim 400m in under 8mins 45secs, you will be able to learn the rest of the water components required for the Surf Lifeguard Award (Tube Rescue, Run-Swim-Run).

You can complete the water components at any Surf Lifeguard Award exam. You will not need to complete the entire Surf Lifeguard Award again, just the water components.

Once I have my lifeguard award, will I be expected to be involved in any major lifeguarding situations e.g CPR?

Once you have qualified as a lifeguard, you will be on patrol as a Junior Lifeguard. Becoming a lifeguard is just the first step on the lifeguard pathway. We will do our best to make sure you are never alone, and that you have a senior lifeguard with you. At Omanu Beach SLSC, we have very qualified and experienced lifeguards who will step up and take over when a situation arises. There are many different options for you to upskill and work your way to becoming a senior or advanced lifeguard.

However, the skills you learn as a lifeguard are lifelong skills that can be carried into the community. You never know when you might need to preform CPR.