Greenpeace yesterday intercepted the world's largest seismic oil ship off the Wairarapa coast.
The environmental group said in a statement it located the 125m ship Amazon Warrior while it searched for oil on behalf of Statoil and Chevron.
Greenpeace crews travelled some 50 nautical miles in two rigid-hulled inflatable vessel in order to intercept the ship. They had since returned to the mainland.
Greenpeace campaigner Kate Simcock radioed the Amazon Warrior from one of the vessels to deliver an open letter of protest signed by over 60,000 New Zealanders, the organisation said.
Polynesian voyaging waka captain Reuben Raihania Tipoki also delivered a message on behalf of over 80 indigenous communities from the east coast, demanding Statoil and Chevron cease activities in their customary waters.
The Amazon Warrior had two support vessels circling it, "acting as guard dogs of its behemoth seismic array", Greenpeace said.
"This is one big beast and it's eerie to see it out here roaming such a beautiful stretch of coastline. In order to find oil, it's blasting sound waves into the ocean every 8 seconds, 24 hours a day, from massive arrays that are the length of 80 rugby fields," Simcock said.
"The oil industry itself admits they are comparable in sound to an underwater volcano, so just imagine how distressing they must be for the dolphins and whales who live here."