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Ocean Signals RescueME EPIRB1

NZD449.65 NZD667.00 inc GST (NZD391.00 + GST) All prices on this website are in NZD

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rescueme EPIRB1 the world's most compact EPIRB


New product with 10 YEAR BATTERY LIFE !

An EPIRB is the essential safety product for your boat. You should never consider leaving port without one! The rescueME EPIRB1 is supplied with integrated GPS as standard, with clear benefits.

Accurate position information transmitted promptly to the emergency services.

When activated, the rescueME EPIRB1 transmits your position and your unique ID to a Rescue Coordination Centre via satellite link. This information is then forwarded to the relevant local Search and Rescue services.

To assist with search and rescue, a homing signal is transmitted on 121.5MHz, which is received by equipment fitted to both sea and airborne rescue craft.

The rescueME EPIRB1 provides peace of mind with an impressive 10 year battery life. The world’s most compact EPIRB can always be on hand, as its small size allows it to be easily retained within its manual bracket or placed in an emergency grab-bag or life raft.


Emergency location beacon, emergency position indicating radio beacon, EPIRB, personal location beacon, GPS, search and rescue, homing signal, satellite, SOS

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  • 30% more compact and lightweight
  • 10 year battery life
  • 5 year warranty
  • Fast accurate positioning
  • Retractable antenna
  • High accuracy 406 MHz alert transmitter
  • 121.5 MHz homing signal
  • Simple three stage activation
  • High inensity strobes

FAQs - read more


A distress beacon is a small electronic device that, on activation, broadcasts a signal to a satellite. This signal alerts the New Zealand Rescue Co-Ordination Centre that you are in distress.

Why are they going to stop monitoring 121.5MHz and 243MHz?

121.5MHz and 243MHz beacons are now obsolete, unreliable technology. Rather than waste resources monitoring the old frequency, worldwide efforts are being concentrated on the superior 406MHz system. COSPAS-SARSAT made the decision to cease satellite processing of 121.5MHz and 243MHz in response to guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 
These United Nations organizations mandate safety requirements for aircraft and maritime vessels and have recognised the limitations of the 121.5MHz and 243MHz beacons and the superior capabilities of the 406MHz alerting system. It is faster, more reliable and more accurate, and is already assisting in the saving of lives.
The decision was also made to reduce the chronically high false alarm rate from analogue distress beacons. Currently 91% of distress beacon signals are false alarms.

Who is RCCNZ?

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand manages all category II search and rescue missions in the New Zealand Search and Rescue Region (NZSRR). When you activate your distress beacon a satellite will detect your signal and send information to RCCNZ, which will then begin a search and rescue mission for you. RCCNZ is based in Lower Hutt, Wellington. It is part of Maritime New Zealand, which is a Crown Agency. For further information, visit

What do I do with my old 121.5MHz beacon?

Dispose of it properly by contacting the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand on 0800 406 111 to find out your nearest beacon disposal centre or by sending it to the Rescue Coordination Centre by courier, handing it in to your nearest Police station or handing it to the retailer from whom you purchase your 406 MHz beacon. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY (that may lead to a helicopter search of your nearest landfill).

What is 406MHz?

Modern distress beacons transmit on 406 Megahertz (MHz). It is a digital system that is fast, reliable and accurate. As well as helping rescuers find your position, 406MHz beacons transmit an identification code. When the beacon is registered with the RCCNZ, this reduces the number of false alarms and provides rescuers additional information, so they can locate you faster and bring the right rescue assets.

What is an OPERATIONAL test?

A test of a 406MHz beacon that requires confirmation of correct processing by the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system.

What is the Ground Segment?

The COSPAS-SARSAT ground segment consists of: Local User Terminals (LUT’s) which receive beacon signals relayed by the satellites and process them, to determine the beacon location; and Mission Control Centres (MCC’s) which accept the output from the LUT’s, convey alert and location data to appropriate search and rescue authorities and exchange system information messages with other MCC’s.

What is an Emergency Beacon  HEX ID?

The unique identity of each and every 406MHz distress beacon, made up of 15 alpha-numeric hexadecimal characters.

What is a Local User Terminal (LUT)?

An earth receiving station that receives beacon signals relayed by COSPAS-SARSAT satellites, processes them to determine the location of beacons, and forwards the signals to a Mission Control Centre (MCC). The New Zealand MCC servicing New Zealand is the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre, located in Canberra.

Why should I not buy a beacon from overseas or over the Internet?

Each country has an individual 406MHz code. Unless specified, a beacon from overseas will be coded for another country and have to be registered in that country. When it is activated, the satellite will notify the wrong Rescue Coordination Centre, which could mean a long, potentially life-threatening delay. Beacons bought overseas cannot be registered in New Zealand, unless the beacon coding is changed to the New Zealand Country code (512).

When should I use a distress beacon?

Distress Beacons are only for use in life-threatening situations. In the event of an emergency, you should first signal other people in your area using radios or other methods of attracting attention. Mobile phones can be used too, but don't rely on them. The phones may be out of range, have limited battery power, or become water-damaged. The procedure to set off a distress beacon varies from device to device. Make sure you read the instructions on how to operate your particular beacon before you have to use it. The instructions are on the beacon label. EPIRBs work best when floating in the water but make sure the beacon is attached to something by the lanyard so that it does not float away. On land, ensure that the PLB is placed in the open away from overhangs so that it has the greatest view of the sky and therefore the best opportunity to be detected by orbiting satellites and over flying aircraft.

What are the different types of beacons?

EPIRB’s - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons are distress beacons designed for maritime environments. These devices are designed to float in water.

PLB’s - Personal Locator Beacons are designed for personal use, mainly by bushwalkers, cross-country vehicle clubs, mountaineers and other adventurers on land. They’re also used in gliders. They're small and lightweight, and designed to fit into pockets. They are manually operated.

ELT’s - Emergency Location Transmitters (ELT’s) are designed for aviation use. They are hard-wired into the aircraft. They are fitted to activate on impact or can be activated manually.

All beacon types are available as standard models or with the addition of GPS.

What if I accidentally set my beacon off?

The most important thing is to turn it off and let RCCNZ know as soon as you can by phoning 0508 472 269. If you are flying, contact Air Traffic Control and ask that they notify RCCNZ of the inadvertent activation. Likewise, if you are on a boat, get a message to RCCNZ through the local Coastguard or Coast Radio Station. There is no penalty for accidentally setting off your beacon. If you use your beacon, or it is accidentally activated, have it serviced to ensure the battery still has enough life to power the beacon for the required 48 hours continuous operation.

I have heard that there may be other safety products that could be better than 406MHz beacons. Is this true and do SAR services endorse other products?

The primary aim of the New Zealand SAR services is to enable the successful search and rescue of people in emergency situations. In principle, we support any system or product that assists in this goal but are largely reliant on other bodies (such as the CAA, Maritime New Zealand, and the international satellite monitoring service, COSPAS-SARSAT), to determine and advise the appropriate recommended safety devices. The 406MHz distress beacon is now the international standard for distress beacons. We also strongly recommend that no safety device is a substitute for exercising good judgment and following sensible safety procedures. Any alternative technology should be submitted to the relevant body for appraisal. 

What are the problems caused by false alarms?

Every beacon alert in and around NZ is treated as a genuine emergency until proven otherwise. This means that false alarms have tied up scarce search and rescue time and assets, while genuine emergencies have received undersized search and rescue responses. While this situation will not be totally eliminated with the use of 406MHz beacons, the ability to phone the registered owners will help reduce the risk and has led to the international decision to phase-out the analogue frequency.

How do the 406 beacons prevent false alarms?

The digital beacons transmit an identity code on the 406MHz frequency that can be cross-referenced with a database of registered 406MHz beacon owners at the RCCNZ. This confidential database includes phone numbers, next of kin contacts, vessel type, how many people usually carried and other vital information, to provide the right response to the emergency. On false alarms, it enables the RCCNZ to make a call to the registered beacon owner to see if he/she is in genuine distress or just has a beacon transmitting by accident. Many false alarms occur because the switch on the distress beacon has been bumped on.

How much better are the 406 beacons?

406MHz beacons are more accurate (to within approximately 5 km, compared to about 20 km for the analogue beacons). 406MHz beacons are also faster – depending on the location, they may be detected within minutes, compared to the average one hour and 30 minutes it takes to get confirmed satellite detection from a 121.5MHz or 243MHz analogue beacon. With the addition of GPS, your location can be determined to within 120 metres in a matter of minutes.

Do distress beacons always work?

No safety equipment can be 100% guaranteed, as they are dependent on variables such as correct usage and the circumstance of the emergency, but the new 406MHz-generation of distress beacons are superior to previous models and, when used correctly, will provide speedy notification of an emergency. Distress beacons are not the only safety equipment that should be used in outdoor recreation and are not intended to replace essential safety equipment such as VHF radios or lifejackets. The 406MHz-generation of distress beacons are the new international standard and will be the only frequency monitored by international satellites. As such they will remain a critical part of New Zealand’s search and rescue operations.

Will SAR respond to an activated 406 beacon?

Yes. When you activate your 406MHz distress beacon, a satellite will detect your signal and send information to RCCNZ, which will then begin a search and rescue mission for you. All beacon activations are investigated to the source. The RCCNZ is charged with identifying all distress beacon signals. There is no cost to the beacon owner/user for this service. Reducing the cost of false activations is one of the key benefits of 406MHz beacons. They do this by unique identification codes that are referenced against a registration database, so that owners can be contacted to determine if activation is real or false and appropriate action quickly and efficiently deployed.

Why are beacons with in-built GPS better?

With the addition of GPS, authorities will not only be advised that you are in distress, but also your exact location. This removes any need to ‘search’ for you and enables them to launch immediately into your rescue operation, saving even more valuable time. Beacons with inbuilt GPS are strongly recommended.

How do I use a distress beacon?

The procedure to set off a distress beacon varies from device to device. Make sure you read the instructions on how to operate your particular beacon before you have to use it. The instructions are on the beacon label. EPIRB’s work best when floating in the water but make sure the beacon is attached to something by the lanyard so that it does not float away. On land, ensure that the PLB is placed in the open away from overhangs so that it has the greatest view of the sky and therefore the best opportunity to be detected by orbiting satellites and over flying aircraft.

I’ve never used a 121MHz or 243MHz beacon before - why should I use a 406MHz beacon now?

We believe that it is good safety practice to carry a 406MHz beacon when going into remote and hazardous areas within NZ. It is an inexpensive insurance that, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you can seek search and rescue assistance. In many cases tramping clubs and other organisations have distress beacons available for hire at very reasonable rates and this is another means by which an individual can access this important safety device. A distress beacon is no substitute for good judgment and following accepted safety procedures.

Will 406MHz distress beacons work on the West Coast of the South Island?

Yes. Beacons must have line-of-sight contact with satellites to communicate. Deep narrow gorges and large overhangs can affect beacon communications with the geostationary satellites but the low orbit satellites will be able to pick up the 406MHz signal – it just might take a little longer to raise an alert.

Will my registered 406MHz beacon work overseas?

Yes.  The Cospas-Sarsat system operates worldwide.  Your beacon MUST BE REGISERED here in New Zealand to ensure you receive an effective response to your emergency in the rest of the world.

Can I travel on aircraft with my 406MHz beacon?

Yes. But you should declare it to your airlines. If you try and take it as cabin baggage you risk it being confiscated due to the nature of the batteries in the beacon. This depends on the airline. You are advised to put it into your hold baggage. Airline notification and securing the switch in the off position are essential.


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