2023 NZ Personal Locator beacon guide

2023 NZ Personal Locator beacon guide


What is a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is an innovative device, designed to ensure the safety of individuals engaging in remote or outdoor activities. This small hand-held gadget employs GPS technology and satellite communication to transmit a distress signal to emergency services in emergency situations. The PLB is primarily designed for outdoor usage and is particularly useful for individuals working or traveling in remote locations where traditional communication may not be accessible.

 When activated, the PLB sends a distress signal to emergency services, including the user's location and identification information (when registered). The signal is then received by search and rescue teams, providing a reliable and efficient way to call for help in emergencies. PLBs have been tested in challenging conditions, and are user-friendly, simply deploy the antenna, and press the ON button. However, it's crucial to note that PLBs should only be used in extreme and life-threatening scenarios as false alerts can put lives and search and rescue services in danger.

Types of beacons

Different types of beacons are available for emergency situations. The traditional type, PLBs, only sends a distress signal when the user requires assistance. On the other hand, satellite messengers provide additional features, such as text messaging and social media linking capabilities, which can be beneficial for individuals participating in activities like long-distance hiking. The downside is that they require a monthly subscription fee and rechargeable batteries. 

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) serves the same purpose as a PLB but with distinct differences, including size, battery life, and design. EPIRBs are larger and are often mounted on boats or marine vessels, while PLBs are smaller and can be worn or kept in a bag or kit. EPIRBs have longer battery life (min 48 hours) and come with a strobe light, while PLBs have a shorter battery life (min 24 hours) and may or may not have a strobe.


Can you use your phone as a personal locator beacon?

Using a cellphone as a personal locator beacon is not recommended, as it does not provide the coverage that PLBs and satellite messengers offer. In case of an emergency in an area with cell signal, utilizing a cellphone in conjunction with a PLB or satellite messenger can be beneficial for quick communication with rescuers and loved ones.

What Is Return Link Service or RLS?

Return Link Service (RLS) is a new feature of PLBs that provides a blue flashing LED light, a visual confirmation from search and rescue that they have received the distress message. The RLS signal confirms that the distress message and precise beacon location have been detected, reducing stress associated with emergency situations.

Get a New Zealand coded Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

By law, PLBs must be registered, All our PLBs are pre-programmed for registration with the Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand (RCCNZ). While PLBs can be used worldwide, registering with a New Zealand coded Personal Locator Beacon ensures that the initial point of contact during an emergency will be the New Zealand Search and Rescue authorities. Registering your PLB is crucial as it allows Search and Rescue Teams to quickly identify you and gather information about your travel plans.

When it comes to ensuring safety and survival in the great outdoors, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a must-have device. However, the cost of a PLB can often be a point of confusion for many. At Advento we strive to offer top-quality PLBs at the most competitive prices possible. Our PLBs are country-coded to New Zealand, and registration with Maritime New Zealand is free of charge.

Shop Advento (PLBs) NZ

Beacons purchased overseas.

It is vital to note that PLBs purchased abroad may not be country-coded to New Zealand and cannot be registered with the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ). If you have a foreign-coded PLB, you may register it with the Rescue Coordination Centre of the country it is coded for, such as AMSA for Australian-coded PLBs. However, this may not be accepted if you don't reside in that country. Visitors to New Zealand can use their foreign-coded PLBs, but it is crucial to register the device in your home country and keep your distress contacts informed of your trip.

Beware of Australian coded beacons sold online in New Zealand

When purchasing a PLB online in New Zealand, be wary of Australian-coded PLBs being sold. By law, PLBs must be registered and coded for the country in which they will be used. If you purchase an Australian-coded PLB in New Zealand, it cannot be registered with New Zealand authorities, and in the event of an emergency, the Australian Search and Rescue authorities will be the first point of contact, which may delay emergency response. To ensure optimal emergency response in New Zealand, it is crucial to purchase a New Zealand-coded PLB and register it with the RCCNZ.


PLB registration is a legal requirement, and it is crucial to do so with the RCCNZ. By registering your PLB, you can receive a quicker and more targeted response in case of an emergency. The RCCNZ can also determine who is with you, how long you have been gone, and whether anyone has any medical conditions. Registration is free and can be done online, by email, or by mail through Beacons, a fast and easy process.

new registration



When to activate?

PLBs are designed for life-threatening situations and when self-rescue options are not available. With the rise in outdoor activities, the number of unnecessary rescue calls has become a significant burden for search and rescue teams, draining their resources and hindering their ability to respond to genuine emergencies. Therefore, it is crucial to activate your PLB only when necessary. The RCCNZ recommends activating the PLB during daylight hours for easier and more efficient location by search and rescue teams. If possible, wait for rescue in a clear and visible area, and use common sense to aid rescuers in finding you. In case of accidental activation, contact the RCCNZ immediately. . When you activate your PLB, the signal is picked up by a satellite and sent to RCCNZ, who will then contact the emergency contacts listed on your PLB's registration. It is important to register your PLB upon purchasing and keep emergency contact information up to date for effective rescue during an emergency.


Accidental activation

In the event of an accidental activation of your Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), it is imperative to contact the New Zealand Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (RCCNZ) immediately. The contact numbers are +64 4 577 8030 or 0508 472 269. This will prevent the initiation of a rescue operation in vain. Maintain the activation of your PLB until instructed to deactivate it, even if communication with RCCNZ cannot be established. Note that there are no charges for accidental activation.

How they work

PLBs send a signal to a satellite upon activation, thereby notifying the RCCNZ of the user's location and distress. To ensure the efficacy of a rescue mission, it is crucial to register the PLB and keep emergency contact information updated. Most modern PLBs emit a 406 MHz signal for emergency situations and survival, while some may also transmit the older 121.5 MHz signal to aid search and rescue teams in locating the user. It is advisable to select a PLB that has GPS capabilities to accurately convey the user's location to the rescue team.


PLB Battery Life / replacment

A PLB is equipped with a long-lasting lithium battery that remains inactive until activation. Regulations require the PLB to transmit an SOS signal for 24 hours. The battery life of the PLB is over 5 years, as the device remains dormant until activated in times of distress. To replace the battery, the unit must be sent to a dealer. In the event of a life-saving rescue, the manufacturer typically replaces the entire unit free of charge.

Disposing of Old PLBs

Old or obsolete PLBs must be disposed of with caution to prevent accidental activation. Do not dispose of your beacon in household waste or recycling. Take the old or obsolete beacon to the nearest police station for appropriate disposal. Log in to your MyBeacons account and update your registration details to reflect that your beacon has been deregistered.

Alternatively, you can send the unit in to 

Level 1 Avalon Studios
41 Percy Cameron Street
Avalon 5010

You will need to log in to your MyBeacons account and update your registration details to indicate that your beacon is now deregistered.


 Safety Tips for Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

 * Keep your PLB securely on your person.
* Make sure everyone in your group knows where the beacon is and how to operate it.
* Familiarize yourself with your PLB before your trip.
* Have more than one PLB in your group, if possible.
* Ensure your PLB is waterproof and has a floatation device for it.
* Read the instruction manual and understand how to operate your beacon.
* Check the battery expiry date, which is shown on the beacon label.
* Test your Beacon once a month.
* Replace the battery with your supplier or agent.
* Register your PLB and keep your details up to date.


Where to hire a beacon in NZ

In New Zealand, individuals seeking to hire a personal locator beacon (PLB) can turn to the Southland Locator Beacon Charitable Company. This company is renowned for its stringent standards and has been recognized by Search and Rescue as the benchmark for beacon hire providers. With 89 outlets located throughout the country, the Southland Locator Beacon Charitable Company offers a vast network of rental options, with a fleet of over 600 highly rated ACR PLBs. The company's dedication to providing reliable, high-quality equipment and services makes it a top choice for individuals in need of a PLB for their outdoor excursions.

1 Day - $15 = is minimum
3 Days - $30 = $10 per day
1 Week - $40 = $5.71 per day
2 weeks - $70 = $5.00 per day
$30 per additional week



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