Greenpeace members have spent the day trying to block an oil exploration ship near the Waiarapa coast.
Greenpeace said the ship, the Amazon Warrior, has been carrying out seismic blasting 50km off the coast, looking for oil on behalf of Statoil and Chevron.
Its executive director in New Zealand, Russel Norman, said, after tailing the boat over the weekend, members swam in front of the ship, causing it to stop its operations and move off-course.
Mr Norman, who was one of the swimmers protesting, said it was mad that the government was allowing the pursuit of new oil.
"In New Zealand we've already seen extreme storms, flooding, drought and fires in the space of a just a few weeks, and it's only April. Climate change makes these weather events more frequent and more intense," he said.
Another protester, Sara Howell, 25, said the future looked grim if oil exploration was not stopped.
"I'm young and I'm already experiencing the effects of climate change. Every year the storms get worse, the floods and the droughts are getting more extreme," she said.