Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)
What are they?
Small, emergency distress beacons that emit a UHF radio signal when activated. Search and Rescue operations use the signal to ‘find’ the beacons, as detailed below.
There are two frequencies available – 121.5MHz and 406MHz. However, the 121.5MHz type has been phased out and SHOULD NOT BE USED. Carry or purchase only a 406MHz beacon.
406 MHz beacons must be registered with Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCNZ) and a recommendation for GPS equipped ones would also be a good idea.
Note that personal locator beacons must only be used in life threatening situations.
How do they work?
Once activated, the signal is picked up by satellite and/or aircraft. An alert message is relayed to the nearest Local User Terminal (LUT, ground station), which calculates the beacon’s position and sends the data to the Mission Control Centre (MCC). The MCC then sends the information to the RCCNZ, which in turn initiates a class II rescue operation.
The Beacons operate with a clear view of the sky; avoid gorges or heavy foliage. Do not turn off once activated. Stay put.
If it is a false alarm, get a message to RCCNZ (0508-4RCCNZ, or 0508-472-269 or if outside New Zealand +64 4 577 8030) or Police as soon as possible.
Failure to do this may divert SAR resources from genuine emergencies and in doing so may endanger lives.
Where can you hire one?
We have collated a list of New Zealand National hire outlets for PLBs to the best of our knowledge. Open the PDF below to find your local PLB outlet, and please get in touch with us if you know any more places to hire PLBs.
Download PDF (November 2016) - Click here
1. Know how and when to activate the beacon.
2. Check the batteries and carry spares if user-replaceable type.
3. Check the beacon is operational (some units have a test functions to do this).
For more information please visit www.beacons.org.nz