A group of scientists are travelling up the North Island's East Coast in an effort to better understand the country's largest and most active fault line.
Led by the state seismic agency GNS, the scientists from New Zealand, the United States and Japan will spend the next two weeks placing earthquake monitoring equipment off the coast of Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa.
For the next year, the instruments will record earthquakes and pressure on the Hikurangi subduction zone.
The project's leader, Laura Wallace, said that although they will probably never be able to predict earthquakes, she hoped the research would give them a better understanding of how the fault works.
"What we want to do is build up a better picture of how the plate motion is being accommodated on this major plate boundary fault, and where earthquakes may be more likely in the future and what size they could potentially be... that will help us to be better prepared."