Paddle boarding hundreds of kilometres along the North Island's East Coast is how eco-warrior Peter Ralph has chosen to expose the risks of deep sea oil exploration.

The 25-year-old has taken on a 675km coastal mission from Cape Palliser to the top of East Cape -- a stretch of coastline which he feels needs more protection.

He is raising awareness "of the New Zealand Government's plans to sell off huge areas of our sea bed for deep sea oil prospecting".

On Friday Ralph embarked from Castlepoint and set out on the next leg of his journey that began on Waitangi Day at Cape Palliser.


The environmental consultant resigned from his job to undertake the quest that he estimates will take three to four weeks on his 5.2m Starboard Ace GT. Growing up in the Bay of Islands, Ralph spent much of his youth surfing, sailing and diving, and said when he found out about deep sea oil three years ago "it just didn't seem right".

"Looking into it even further, to me it just didn't make sense. I thought I would do something about it -- bring it to people's attention."

Ralph said deep sea oil was a "big step in the wrong direction" in terms of climate change.

"There is seismic surveying which causes a lot of distress for marine animals like dolphins and whales.

"Once they do start drilling there's the risk of a spill, which could potentially be catastrophic."

He said although there were more oil exploration blocks on the West Coast, the stretch was too rough for a paddle board.

"There's no oil blocks on the Northeast Coast so it just left this stretch of coastline, there are a number of blocks along this part of the coastline."

Companies could bid on the blocks -- an area of ocean -- for the right to explore it for oil.

Supporting Ralph on his venture is his father, who is following his son up the coast in a van they will sleep in each night.

"Dad's a sailor so he's clued up with maritime safety," said Ralph, "[he's] the perfect person to help read the weather forecasts and marine charts."

Ralph, relatively new to paddle boarding, has been training a full year for his journey and before setting off he sought advice from a nutritionist.

His mother, a doctor, also made sure he was up to the task, as did his brother, who is a physio.

Ralph aims to cover 35km per day and is documenting his adventure on his website and capetocapenz Facebook page. He is calling on the Minister for the Environment to give people back the right to have their say on the matter and make exploratory drilling for oil and gas a publicly notifiable activity.

"It seems odd that something that happens on land like subdividing or putting in a new road is publicly notifiable, however exploration drill which could potentially have a huge impact isn't," Ralph said. "Why would we put our most precious asset, our oceans and beautiful coastlines, at risk of permanent catastrophic damage all for a quick buck -- a quick buck that most New Zealanders won't see a cent of."