Police have arrested 30 climate change protesters in Wellington's Lambton Quay on a day of action that has also closed roads and blocked buses in the capital.

But all were released without charge.

A group was sitting in the middle of the intersection in a circle linked arm in arm.

The final protesters forming the circle have been taken away by police.


Protesters have followed police without a fight, the crowd cheering in support each time one is taken away.

They're being spoken to just outside Parliament's grounds where three police vans are waiting.

The group's national media liaison Simon Oosterman claims more than 30 of their members have been arrested.

"Police arrested the rebels after they sat down in a circle to block Lambton Quay in front the Wellington Cenotaph and the Beehive," Oosterman said in a statement.

"Several hundred people - including members of the public - stood to support, chant and sing.

"Applause and cheers broke out as each person was peacefully removed by police.

"As of 6 o'clock all the rebels blocking traffic had been removed."

Police confirmed about 30 people were arrested, but added they were made without incident and all were released without charge.


A large line of buses headed northbound is backed up down Lambton Quay but some headed southbound have been let through while others have been diverted down Whitmore Street.

Photo / Georgina Campbell
Photo / Georgina Campbell

Earlier, more than 100 activists swarmed into an ANZ bank branch in Lambton Quay at lunchtime.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was a country where people were free to protest as long as it was legal, safe, and non-violent.

But she said blocking people from doing their normal jobs did little to advance the fight against climate change.

"I'm never going to be opposed to someone being able to express their opinion and express their voices, but in blocking people from being able to go and do their day to day job doesn't necessarily take us any closer to the climate action they are calling for."

Wellington buses had to be diverted around the central city due to a large climate protest that blocked Lambton Quay.


Dozens of activists with the international group Extinction Rebellion are intermittently blocking Lambton Quay and Whitmore St as part of rallies planned for 60 capital cities around the world.

Photo / Georgina Campbell
Photo / Georgina Campbell

The Wellington City Council says buses are now being diverted through Whitmore St, along the waterfront then re-joining Courtney Place at Taranaki St.

Bus commuters are being asked to check in with Metlink for updates.

The council suggests people avoid the area where possible.

The climate change protesters have blocked traffic on Wellington's Lambton Quay and at other sites in the capital.

Extinction Rebellion protesters have blocked off Stout St in central Wellington. A pink car was used to stop one entrance and a pink boat the other.


About 200 people are cheering and singing and chanting at the site.

Protesters have also now blocked Ballance Street, near the Wellington District Court.

The Extinction rebellion protesters have blocked off Stout St in central Wellington. Photo / Emme McKay
The Extinction rebellion protesters have blocked off Stout St in central Wellington. Photo / Emme McKay

The activists have also blocked off the entrance to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and written "Targeting Extraction of Fossil Fuels" on the doors.

The government department was targeted to demonstrate against petroleum exploration permits that have been granted.

Wellington is the first of more than 60 cities across the world to be targeted by Extinction Rebellion activists this week. This next wave of protests in the name of the environment follows the group's high profile action that brought London to a standstill in April.

Extinction Rebellion's Kyle Matthews said he travelled up from Dunedin and they were planning to protest all day.


"We've got an ecological climate crisis and the Government needs to do better and do more to resolve that," he said.

From 7am today rebels met at Wellington's Midland Park and then made their way to various central city locations, Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Dr Sea Rotmann said.

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"This is a really, really minor disruption in people's lives compared to what is coming and I don't think we are prepared for what is coming.

"We want people to wake up and to be willing to join us because what we're doing looks like something that is worth doing and not just a bunch of hippies sitting in the street for no reason."

The blockade is the first of 60 disruptive events planned by Extinction Rebellion in cities around the world.


Six people are attached with metal pipes to a pink car at the Lambton Quay end of Stout St.

The car's wheels have been removed to make it immovable.

One person is attached to a 3m pink boat at the Ballance St end of Stout St.

Sixteen people are attached to each other surrounding the boat in a circle.

Victoria University student Melanie Vautier is locked on to the pink car.

She says she never been in an arrestable situation before, but feels the climate crisis means she has no choice.


"We want a future where all life thrives," she says. "Yet MBIE is encouraging the burning of the dirty fuels that are pushing us towards mass extinction.

"Either we make history, or we're history.

"That means we must draw the line on fossil fuels before it's too late."

Existing oil and gas production is more than we can burn if we're to limit warming to 1.5C, she says.

Vautier says the UN warns an increase above 1.5C will lead to widespread human misery.

"Despite the climate emergency, just last week MBIE released more land in Taranaki for oil and gas exploration.


"Worse, they are enabling OMV, one of the 100 climate criminals responsible for 70 per cent of our greenhouse gases.

"This summer, OMV will start exploring for oil and gas in untouched seas off the coasts of Otago and Taranaki."

OMV is the last major oil company in New Zealand, she says.

The Extinction Rebellion movement makes three demands to governments.

Activists want them to "tell the truth" by declaring a climate emergency, to act and halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to create and be led by decisions of a Citizens' Assembly on climate and ecological justice.