Climate change rallies over the weekend throughout the country called for urgent action from a UN Climate Summit in Paris.
About 15,000 marched in Auckland, while rallies were also held at about 35 places around New Zealand. The events were part of global action aimed at sending a message to world leaders ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris beginning today.
Thousands turned out around Otago brandishing placards and chanting in a show of unity to highlight a lack of action on climate change.
An estimated 2000 to 3000 people turned out to march down George St about 1pm yesterday.
Dunedin march co-organiser Jen Olsen, of Broad Bay, said the march was "brilliant".
"This message is that people want something done. People are concerned," she said.
I think New Zealand could be a leader in dealing with climate change. We should be. We're in an ideal position to be."
The gathering started from the Dental School made its way to the Octagon where several people spoke on the impact of climate change, including Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.
"It will get worse," he said. "This is impacting on our community now. I want action and I want it yesterday."
Chris Hawkins, 13, of Bayfield High School, told the crowd more education in schools may help.
Huirapa upoko [head] David Ellison, of Karitane, said people "must do all they can" to stop climate change.
"If our rivers, our lakes, our foreshores, our seas, are in good shape, so will [be] all the people living in [our country]."
More than 70 people gathered in the small Hokianga town of Rawene for speeches, live music and a march through town at the Hokianga People's Climate Action rally.
Speakers emphasised the need for meaningful action and binding carbon emissions targets now to mitigate the effects of climate change. Frustration was expressed at the lack of action and the failure of the NZ government to set or support adequate binding targets.
The Government is allowing prospecting for deep sea oil off the coast of Hokianga and the links between climate change and deep sea oil are well understood, speaker John Aiken said.
"To risk our environment looking for more oil that we cannot use without causing catastrophic climate change is madness," Mr Aiken said.
"We need to transition now to a low carbon society and leave that oil in the ground. Climate change is everyone's issue and we need action now to ensure that future generations actually have a future."
A large crowd turned out to take part in the Tauranga People's Climate March.
More than 350 people answered the call from Tauranga Carbon Reduction Group member Margie Mollison, who organised Saturday's march.
Colourful banners bore slogans such as "Fight Global Warming", "Planet before Profit" "There's no Planet B".
Loud chants rang out, including, "Earth is worth fighting for, act now it's not too late", led by Tauranga father-of-four and Ngati Ranginui iwi member Graham Cameron. Tauranga Samba Group drummers helped to draw extra attention to the march. Mr Cameron said: "Let's not get distracted by flags, world cups, knighthoods, and many other distractions. Climate change needs to be on everyone's lips, and our local and national leaders need to be left in no doubt that we expect urgent action to reduce our carbon emissions."
Business entrepreneur and philanthropist Gareth Morgan also attended. Mr Morgan said: "It's a very important issue. I'm concerned that when it comes [to] carbon emissions our political leaders have been poles apart for years. "The Government took submissions on what they should offer [in Paris] in terms of reducing carbon emissions with the average response coming out at 40 per cent reduction. So why is our Government offering an 11 per cent reduction? That's a substantial gap," he said.
Dr Mollison said she was heartened with the outcome and the atmosphere was positive. "What we wanted to do was basically encourage people to think about it. Think about it as an individual, then as a city, and as a country. It's very easy to become distracted but we need to really think about this issue," she said.
Despite rain on Saturday, more than 100 people turned out in Rotorua to protest for action on climate change.
Rotorua people were among those taking part in protests marches planned around the world as part of a global People's Climate March campaign.
There were 34 protest marches in New Zealand with thousands of people getting involved before the United Nations Climate Conference was to take place this week.
Rotorua organiser Jenny Lux said they wanted action from the Government.
On Saturday the people who marched through Rotorua shouted "What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!"
"I thought it was a reasonably good turnout, considering the forecast. There were about 120 people. Rotorua is quite conservative so it was good to see people getting involved.
"It's not over. We need to keep the pressure on. We can all do something in our own lives to help climate change, such as cycling or walking instead of using cars," Mrs Lux said.
According to the People's Climate March website, the campaign stands for climate justice and a safe climate, renewable energy and jobs in the transition to the clean economy.
They are calling for a plan to reverse the growth in New Zealand's carbon pollution and to transition New Zealand off fossil fuels.
People also walked through the streets of Hastings to voice their concern about the planet's future.
Several hundred Whanganui people also turned out on Saturday.
Co-organiser Chris Cresswell said he estimated the march numbered between 300 and 500 people, and he was delighted with the turnout.
"There were a lot more people than we expected, and it was very positive and very fun."
Speakers included Whanganui mayor Annette Main, deputy mayor Hamish McDouall, environmental activists Nicola Young, Rochelle Bullock and Nelson Lebo, and Mr Cresswell.
"We all need to get active on this issue, in our lives and politically," Mr Cresswell said.
"It's the most important issue facing society today."
Brenda Gregory joined the march with her daughter Sue. She said she had heard about the marches happening around New Zealand, and was very pleased one had been organised for Whanganui.
She said she was not surprised so many people had turned out for the march.
"I knew it would be a big crowd because it's such an important issue.
"I marched because I wanted to send a message to the government that we need urgent action on climate change, not just more talk."
Mrs Gregory said she would be watching to see what comes out of the Paris conference.
About 200 people marched through Wanaka demanding action.
After speeches by environmentalists, a good-humoured crowd sang their way through the streets of the town, across Pembroke Park to the lake shore.
In Queenstown, about 25 people turned out to show their support.
About 120 people marched in Alexandra on Saturday morning.
A life-size polar bear, adorned with newspaper headlines on climate change, was carried aloft during the march.
Polar bear creator Chris Naylor, of Springvale, said he suspected polar bears would become a symbol of climate change.
In other centres, including in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, thousands of people turned out to demonstrations urging the Government to take a tougher stance on climate change.
Officially, 35 marches were organised in New Zealand and 2000 worldwide over the weekend.
* Reporting from the Otago Daily Times, Northern Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post and Wanganui Chronicle.