Austrian oil company OMV GSB has been given the green light for a controversial consent to drill off the Otago coast.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) granted the company's application to drill up to 10 exploration and appraisal wells and discharge into the ocean.
The EPA said it sought expert advice and found the potential effects were not significant as they were either temporary or involved a small area.
The consent was subject to conditions including carrying out environmental monitoring before drilling each well and for three years after completion.
The authority said climate change could not be considered, despite a high level of public interest.