The South Island of New Zealand is a unique place. Rugged coastlines and vast rural landscapes to lush forests and towering alpine peaks; it is an environment that has few equals.

When things go wrong in these environments we are vulnerable and isolated. Our rescue helicopters provide a critical lifeline. The Canterbury and West Coast Rescue Helicopter Service watches over the lives of more than 600,000 people.

The Christchurch Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the ROA Rescue Helicopter based in Greymouth are on standby 24/7, 365 days of the year. Also, a third, backup helicopter is available in Christchurch. These two bases cover the region from Kaikoura down to Waitaki and, from Karamea to Haast on the West Coast.

Furthermore, the Rescue Helicopter Crew (consisting of a Pilot, a Crewman, and Intensive Care Paramedic) are ready to deliver life-saving aid using the best training and technology.

The vast and diverse rural environments mean the speed and maneuverability characteristics of a Rescue Helicopter offer unique advantages over conventional land ambulances. In a life and death situation, the Rescue Helicopter Service may be a patient’s only chance for survival.

In trauma cases such as road accidents and medical emergencies, getting emergency care or treatment to a patient at the scene within 60 minutes of an accident or incident increases the patients chance of making a full recovery by over 80%.

Our rescue crews make a real difference in the lives of our Canterbury and West Coast communities. They can provide advanced care to patients much faster. In remote and hard to reach areas, the Rescue Helicopter Service can mean the difference between life and death.


Missions flown by our rescue services can be categorised into the following, general groups:

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We rescued 874 people

in 2020 alone