The Wellington community took to the water in kayaks and held banners onshore today, to throw an "unwelcoming party" for oil companies Statoil and Chevron.
"We're making it clear to them and to the government that we won't stand for a future full of fossil fuels," said Oil Free Wellington spokeswoman Michelle Ducat.
Statoil and Chevron have contracted the world's largest seismic blasting ship, the Amazon Warrior, to look for oil off Wellington's coast.
The ship is expected to arrive in New Zealand waters any day now.
"If we have any hope for a stable climate, we can't let Statoil and Chevron explore for yet more oil and gas. Scientists tell us we cannot even burn existing reserves.
We need to urgently move away from fossil fuels," Ducat said.
Wellingtonians were joined by Te Ikaroa, a group representing tangata whenua opposed to oil exploration off the East Coast.
"Numerous hapu and iwi from the East Coast to the top of the South Island expressed opposition to this activity because of the harm to the environment, said Te Ikaroa spokeswoman Tere Harrison.
"Despite government attempts to extinguish Maori rights in these matters, Maori state again and again: We have rights and an obligation to protect these areas, and we will.
"Maori also know firsthand government is unable to protect marine environments if there is an oil spill. That was evident in the Rena disaster. Furthermore, the government's pursuit of fossil fuels is insane. The era of fossil fuels is ending, government must commit to developing sustainable fuels. The impact on the environment and on the earth demands it," Harrison said.
Ducat said Statoil recently gave up its Northland permits following "ongoing opposition from tangata whenua".
"It's been nearly a year since the Paris climate agreement and it's clear that government won't act. In fact, it is continuing to invite oil and gas companies to explore in our waters.
"The impacts of an unstable climate are already being felt by those who have contributed least to it. Our near neighbours in the Pacific face an uncertain future as the sea level rises. We stand in solidarity with all peoples around the world who are resisting fossil fuel development.
"This 'unwelcoming' party for the oil companies is a demonstration of people power. We aren't relying on the Paris Climate Agreement or the national government to sort things out because they won't. It's up to us as communities to take real action on climate change."