There have been organised lifeboat and life-saving teams based in Sumner, serving the Christchurch and Canterbury community, since the 1870s when Captain Day and his colleagues jumped in their rowing boats and battled high seas to save people shipwrecked on Sumner Bar.

'Rescue' - Sumner first lifeboat
‘Rescue’ – Sumner’s first lifeboat

Back then, there were few rules other than the human duty to save lives. Today, our organisation is more structured and must be more compliant than ever before with national and international regulations.

Yet the service is still provided by volunteers, who not only (strictly within Health and Safety constraints) put their own lives at risk in a crisis, but also give enormous amounts of their personal time to being trained or training others, and to practising their drill to perfection.

Sumner Lifeboat crew 1912
Sumner Lifeboat crew 1912
Today’s gear is far-removed from the equipment of the past

Below are some more resources about the history of Sumner Lifeboat Institution.

The Sumner Class – a Lifeboat Story

When Sumner Lifeboat Institution needed to replace their all-weather vessel, they decided to commission a purpose-designed lifeboat. The design became known as the Sumner Class.

This 46 minute video features the design, build and sea trials of the Sumner Class lifeboat Blue Arrow Rescue.

Following Sumner Lifeboat’s example, Bluff Coastguard and North Canterbury Coastguard have adopted the Sumner Class as the basis for their all-weather vessels.

Rescue Magazine

Rescue May 2019 CoverPeriodically we publish ‘Rescue Magazine’ which covers the recent activities of Sumner Lifeboat, including callouts, crew updates, plans, awards, fundraising, etc.

We have just published a new edition, which came out in late May.

Visit the Rescue Magazine page to access current and past editions.


Rescue – The Book

Rescue book coverLifeboat services at Sumner have a fascinating history. The book ‘Rescue’ is an account of the Sumner lifeboat from the 1850s to the 1990s.

With everything from archive photographs to contemporary accounts, it is a valuable insight into the evolution of lifeboat services from ad hoc volunteers to the highly-trained crew of today’s Sumner Lifeboat Institution.

‘Rescue’ is published by the Institution; please contact us to obtain a copy.