A new satellite receiving station in Bay of Plenty is expected to greatly speed up search and rescue operations.
Six satellite dishes have been built between Taupo and Rotorua, along with a similar station in Western Australia, as part of a joint project by Maritime New Zealand and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Together, the two stations will cover north to the Equator, south to the South Pole, east to halfway across the Pacific, and west halfway across the Indian Ocean.
Maritime New Zealand says beacon signals will be received more quickly and beacon locations pinpointed more accurately.
The stations will be rigourously tested before they begin operating in late 2017.
New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre responds to about 550 beacon alerts each year.