When I was patrolling, a few people who came along the beach would stare at me but I didn’t care. Life shouldn’t be a fashion contest. Don’t let how you look hold you back.
— Tony Christiansen, Surf Lifesaver

During Tony's years in school, he was alienated from most of the physical activities and as a result, he joined the surf lifesaving camp at the Omanu Surf Club which was run by one of his swimming coaches.

A proficient swimmer by then, Tony earned his surf lifesaving Bronze Medallion at the end of the same week and joined the Omanu Pacific Surf Lifesaving Club.

He worked as a surf lifeguard for 8 years and was also the club's canoe team captain.

Tony was the BEST speaker we have ever seen and the rousing standing ovation he received, I have never seen before. RIVETING!
— Marilyn Hooper, New Zealand Lotteries Commission

Tony is believed to be the only double amputee lifeguard in the Southern Hemisphere.

Throughout his career as a surf lifesaver, Tony made 33 rescues and was granted a Special Achievement Award from the International Life Saving Federation the same year he gained his instructor's certificate.