Canterbury Regional Council earlier today voted to declare a climate emergency, becoming the first council in the country to do so.
The council said it joins other local governments in Australia, the UK, Canada and the United States in adopting the stance.
"We have no doubt at council that urgency is required - the science is irrefutable and we have for some time now, been responding accordingly," deputy chair Peter Scott said.
This morning's vote followed lobbying from the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion.
While declaring a climate emergency is largely symbolic, members of Extinction Rebellion said it was an important first step towards achieving bigger environmental goals and openly acknowledging the seriousness of climate change.
Councillor Lan Pham said she hoped it had a snowball effect and inspired other organisations around the country.
Three councillors voted against it, saying there were other options to tackle climate change which the council was already pursuing.
Regional council chair Steve Lowndes is an ordinary member of Extinction Rebellion, and as such declared an interest and did not take part in the council decision.
A report on the benefits and disadvantages of declaring a climate emergency will also be considered by a Christchurch City Council committee next week.
Nelson later joined Canterbury in declaring a climate emergency.
A decision was made by the Nelson City Council, after a three-hour debate this afternoon.
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese brought the declaration to the table because of the level of community interest, and noticeable environmental changes in the past few years.
She said the region had recently endured natural disasters on a scale she'd never before seen.
Some councillors were nervous about making what they called a symbolic gesture, and its implications for ratepayers.
Efforts to delay the decision were lost eight votes to five, but a decision was finally made 10 votes to three.