Life in uniform

Travel & deployments

Your chance to see the world

The NZ Defence Force is actively engaged in operations and exercises around the world. During your career with us, you will have the opportunity to deploy both overseas, as well as to different locations in New Zealand.

'Deploy' simply means to 'move to the right place at the right time'. Depending on how complex the deployment is, the length and type can vary. It might be somewhere in New Zealand, in our South Pacific neighbourhood, or further afield. It might be just a few days or many months. We choose what capabilities to deploy and who will be involved depending on the mission.

navy landscape 5
AirForce TravelAndDeployments Landscape 04

What's the difference?

You may have heard people say they are deploying on an exercise, or deploying on an operation. So what's the difference?


Exercises are short training engagements that provide an opportunity to test personnel in simulated scenarios that imitate real-life environments. These are often done alongside other allied nations.

Examples of exercises:

  • Southern Katipo
  • Exercise Pitch Black.


Operations can include many types of challenges that threaten our national and personal security, including combat operations, peacekeeping, search and rescue, international coalition support, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR). A coordinated effort by the NZDF to contribute to a particular mission or security outcome means that personnel can be deployed to many parts of the world on operations. This can involve working with other NZ Government agencies or allied forces to achieve a mutual outcome. 

Examples of operations:

  • Op Antarctica (Scott Base)
  • Op Awhina (Nelson/Tasman fires)
  • Op Farad (Sinai, Egypt).

Each service has a part to play



Air Force


Due to the large size of New Zealand's coastlines, and the expanse of the Pacific, our ships are frequently patrolling our waters. We conduct surveillance, deter unlawful activity, and interdict vessels of interest. We work closely with other NZ Government departments to protect our Exclusive Economic Zone. We also participate in search and rescue operations, underwater recovery, and peacekeeping.

Further afield, we assist the international community in anti-piracy patrols, amongst other tasks.

As a fighting force, it's natural that our soldiers are deployed overseas in conflict situations. While on deployment, we work alongside our allies and contribute to international coalitions. We're able to offer our own expertise and resources, and learn from other armies.

It's incorrect to think an Army is just about combat. We help bring stability to countries affected by internal conflict, and we protect innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire.

As we have seen in our own country, natural disasters can bring widespread devastation in seconds. An Army can bring invaluable resources to affected areas, helping repair the infrastructure and getting the community back on its feet. As a member of the United Nations, we’re also called upon to observe and monitor delicate political situations. The modern world is complex and diverse – so our role is too.

The Air Force has the ability to carry large amounts of equipment, personnel, and supplies. Our expertise plays a central role in any overseas operations involving the Defence Force or our allies.

Recent years have seen us deployed to many different countries on many different missions. In combat theatres, such as the Middle East, our Hercules C130s conduct regular supply and redeployment flights. In countries affected by war, we can help monitor tense situations and provide aerial intelligence. We provide the essential tools and personnel needed by the Army and our allies.

Or we can be on hand to protect the civilian population. We are often involved in search and rescue missions, over both land and sea. As we've seen recently in our own country, the Air Force can play an essential role in the aftermath of a natural disaster. If roads and bridges are destroyed or become impassable, we can always find a way to get where we're needed.



As the NZDF contributes to a large number of operations and exercises in NZ and overseas, sometimes extra personnel are required. Our Reserve Force helps supplement our ranks to ensure we can achieve our mission. Individuals can be selected to ensure sufficient numbers, or Reserve Force units can be tasked to perform specific roles.

Partners and families

It can be a significant undertaking for NZDF personnel to be deployed, and we understand the impact this has on partners and families who are carrying on at home with their loved one absent. There are supportive communities and dedicated assistance set up to ensure the best possible help is available.

Landscape 874x544px v2
Back to top