New ambulances will be coming to Murupara and Ōpōtiki in July designed specifically to support rural and remote communities.

The new fleet of 14 Volkswagen First Response Units were handed over to St John at a launch event in Auckland yesterday.

The new ambulances will improve emergency response times to isolated communities to improve the equity and access of healthcare to all New Zealanders.

They are part of a model designed specifically to support New Zealand's rural and remote areas.


St John assistant director of operations Tony Devanney said the fit-for-purpose vehicles are smaller and nimbler than a traditional ambulance.

Up to 60 more vehicles will be rolled out over the next two to three years.

"They are ideal for narrow roads, difficult terrain and St John first responders working outside metropolitan areas.

"These new units have ample room for treating and stabilising patients while a transporting ambulance is on the way, ensuring the best possible clinical care for our patients," Devanney said.

The new vehicles will be crewed by volunteers and will be able to quickly locate and assess patients. They will help transport locally or to meet a helicopter or other transporting ambulance.

Devanney said St John volunteers were the mainstay of rural and remote emergency response and were critical to the delivery of ambulance services.

"It is vital that we provide them flexibility when donating their valuable time to the community," he said.

Contributions from donors around the country have made the delivery of these vehicles possible.


Devanney said the development of the new unit was a great example of Kiwis coming together to ensure all communities have access to the best emergency healthcare.

One of the first areas to receive the new units is Waihau Bay on the East Cape.

Station manager Spady Te Pou said aside from the modern spec, the shorter job cycle times meant volunteers could stay in their local communities and have greater flexibility.

This would ultimately mean better health outcomes, he said.

Volkswagen NZ head of commercial vehicles Kevin Richards said it was privilege to provide the "state-of-the-art" vehicles.

First fleet in July will be placed in:
- Russell
- Maungaturoto
- Dargaville
- Hahei
- Mokau
- Opunake
- Murupara
- Waihau Bay
- Hicks Bay
- Te Kaha
- Opotiki
- Porangahau
- Pongaroa
- Picton