If you are fascinated by the sea and its geography, you will be fascinated by the opportunity to help create the sea and coastline charts to keep our ships at sea and clear of the rocks!

  • Service
  • Specialisation
    Intelligence, IT and Communications
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

Naval Hydrographic Surveyors not only assist in the creation of accurate seabed and coastline charts for navigational and military purposes, they help search for mines, underwater explosives, missing persons, sunken vessels, operate Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

As a Naval Hydrographic Surveyor you will need to be adaptable to change, be physically fit, work well under pressure, enjoy a challenge and become familiar with rapidly advancing computer technology. You will also work towards gaining internationally recognised qualifications in Hydrographic Surveying, and the operation of Autonomous Vehicles.

Job on deployment

The majority of your time is spent away either at sea or on location conducting small boat surveys. Tasks required within this specialised position include:

  • Monitoring of bridge survey computer equipment
  • Recording data observed by the charge surveyor
  • Recording tidal observations
  • Driving 4WD vehicles
  • Preparing survey equipment for deployment
  • Cleaning and maintenance of survey instruments
  • Assisting in the set up and operation of shore surveying stations
  • Maintaining survey records

While at sea you will be required to work on the Bridge of the ship as Helmsman or Online System Operators and should expect to work in this capacity for at least 2 x 4 hour shifts in every 24-hour period, as well as completing hydrographic and other work duties as required.

At sea you will have an important role to play in the ship’s operational organisation. During times, such as “action stations”, you may be a member of a small boats crew, refuelling at sea crew, and the man overboard recovery unit. Damage Control is an important aspect onboard all HMNZ Ships, and you will be required to participate in realistic fire and flood exercises. You could also be a member of a Beach Survey Team conducting beach surveys and reconnaissance in preparation for the landing of Defence Force personnel and stores, both in New Zealand and where required in the Pacific region.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Ongoing Training

Specialist Training

You will start your career with basic common training before completing your first hydrographic course, during your basic trade training phase. Following successful completion you will have on the job training period with the Military Hydrographic Group (MHG) based ashore and at sea to develop core navigation and seamanship skills.

Once fully trained you will be skilled in hydrographic surveying, assisting in searching for mines utilising autonomous underwater vehicles (remote underwater search), piloting of Remote Piloted Air System (Drones), driving a number of watercraft (Workboats, RHIBs and Zodiacs), driving heavy vehicles and many more qualifications. You will primarily be a part of the operational unit, HMNZS MATATAUA, and be deployed via land, sea and air in New Zealand and overseas. This will include assisting Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief efforts, Land based deployments as an integral part of the Maritime Mine Warfare Force, assisting the New Zealand Police in search and recovery or conducting hydrographic surveys to assist with the freedom to manoeuvre for both RNZN ships and other waterborne craft.

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy you will be posted to Devonport, Auckland. Here you will do 16 weeks of basic military training to find out if you have what it takes to be in the Navy, and learn various subjects including:

  • Teamwork and support
  • Naval history and customs
  • Drill and parades
  • Core mariner skills and weapons training
  • First aid and firefighting
  • Physical fitness
  • Self-discipline

On completion of the basic branch training you will complete specialised courses covering:

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) Handlers and Operators Course,
  • Hydrographic theory,
  • Mine Counter Measures - operations and tactics,
  • Advanced First Aid and Firefighting,
  • Introduction into Geographic Information Systems,
  • Navigators Yeoman (Navigation & Chart correction course),
  • Four Wheel Driving courses,
  • Truck Driver (Classes 2-5)

Hydrographic Systems Operators complete additional specialised courses as their career progresses. Soon after which you will gain your Skipper Restricted Limits Certificate, and be promoted from Hydrographic Systems Operator to Hydrographic Survey Technician.

On completion of a six month hydrographic course in the UK or Australia, you are accredited as an internationally recognised Category B Hydrographic Surveyor, and on completion of a competencies log, gain a Diploma in Hydrographic surveying and Diploma in Spatial Information Services.

Can you think of a more exciting way to get an internationally recognised surveying qualification?

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Navy are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Be free of any criminal convictions.

3 years secondary school. Note, qualifications may be used to assess trade suitability.


There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the SV security clearance required for this trade. You must be free of any criminal convictions.

Find out if you’re eligible here.


There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.


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