Life in the Navy

There’s no life like it

The Royal New Zealand Navy is responsible for the maritime defence of New Zealand and it’s interests. This includes protecting the coastline and the economic resources of our oceans, and maintaining peace, security and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.

It’s a complex task. So we need to operate and maintain a range of ships, craft, teams and other hardware. Presently, this includes frigates, Seasprite helicopters, a hydrographic and oceanographic research ship, a diving team and support ship, a fleet tanker, an amphibious sealift ship and a range of patrol vessels. With all this, we can patrol both in-shore and offshore waters – all the way down to the Antarctic ice shelf!

Going to sea is an exciting experience. And you’ll enjoy sharing the sense of ship’s pride with your crewmates. A ship is just cold steel without you. With you, it’s a fast, modern and complex piece of technology that’s ready for anything.

How much time you actually spend at sea depends on your role. But one thing’s for sure. Being part of the Navy gives you an incredible sense of camaraderie, whether you’re on operations in the Gulf, patrolling in the South Pacific or peacekeeping on the other side of the world. And it opens up opportunities to travel in a way people in civilian life will never experience.

Pushing yourself

Constant learning, and pushing yourself to be the best are part of everyday life in the Navy.

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Navy life

Have you ever woken up to find that your home has moved 200 miles overnight?

Welcome to the Navy. Whilst we’re not always at sea, at any one time a third of our personnel are onboard.

See what we are all about in this video and see some of the sailors already in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Whatever the mission, you’ll find there’s a real tight-knit camaraderie when you’re at sea. You will be intensely proud of your ship and the way that everyone works to keep it operating smoothly. Each ship has its own defined role, from a $600m warship operating in a multi-national combat operation to smaller vessels patrolling and surveying the waters off our coast. 

The ship is your home at sea, so it has everything you need to be comfortable. There are areas to chill out and put your feet up, work out or play video games.

When we’re not at sea, you’ll find us at HMNZS Philomel in Devonport. Just like when we’re onboard, this is the place where we live, work and play together. Here you’ll find facilities that we can’t always squeeze onto our ships, such as swimming pools, a library and shops. And with Auckland on your doorstep, there are all the big city attractions within easy reach too.


Navy life offers great opportunities to meet new and exciting people from all walks of life, while still allowing you stay in touch with your friends and family.

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Working on base

While working on base in New Zealand, you can expect to always work in safe and healthy conditions. There's loads of facilities on base to keep you entertained in your downtime, whether that’s a fully equipped gym, a library or just a comfy place to relax and use the internet.

While working in base you will have the opportunity to live in service accommodation within a military establishment or live outside of base and rent, flat or buy. However, we recommend you live on base in the early stages of your career to gain a sense of the Navy lifestyle.

Overseas deployment

When you’re overseas, or away on a mission, conditions can vary. For example, if you’re suddenly deployed overseas to assist in humanitarian relief following a natural disaster, then of course it’s not going to be as well equipped as your home base. However, this doesn't mean you’ll be lacking any of the essentials. Even if you're overseas you will still have opportunities to stay fit and relax when you're off-duty.

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Social life

Quiet time
Going out

There’s always time for rest and relaxation in the Navy. It's a little different when you are at sea, because our ships are working vessels, so there is less space for recreational facilities. But there's still plenty to keep you occupied. The activities are varied and range from reading your favourite book on the Quarterdeck to watching a movie in your mess when not on watch.

When you are at our home base, HMNZS Philomel in Devonport, you're spoiled for choice. There's the opportunity to take part in many sports and hobbies both on and off base. We have team sports such as basketball, rugby, cricket and football, as well as other sports and hobbies including skiing, music and a motorcycle club. Just ask and someone will let you know what other activities you could be taking part in.

On base you’ll find a chapel and Te Taua Moana Marae. If you fancy a bit of peace and quiet, then there’s also an excellent library. You might use this if you’re studying for any qualifications, or just for reading – as well as a constantly replenished stock of books, you’ll find all your favourite magazines too. The Navy also offers access to computers which allow you to email, Facebook and twitter your friends and family.

With Auckland on your doorstep, all the big city attractions beckon. It's just a short hop to a good night out, a cool restaurant, cinemas, shops or a bit of sightseeing.

For those who are looking for something a bit more relaxing, Devonport is a microcosm of quaint bars and restaurants as well as a public library and awesome beaches.

From Devonport Naval Base the opportunities are endless, and within an hour you have the chance to experience almost everything that New Zealand can offer, including ranges, forests, beaches and skiing.

The Navy offers services to all its personnel such as holiday homes in Taupo and Tauranga; a ski lodge in Ohakune and opportunities to sail on any one of our sail training craft. You can also take up learning opportunities through the VESA scheme.

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Give your passion purpose

Whatever your passion is in life, there's a role in the Navy that will help give it purpose.

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