A recent decision to approve access permits for coal mining on Crown land passed all the legal tests required.
The ban on future offshore permits for oil and gas exploration announced by the government does not apply to mining access agreements already in place.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the reliance on coal over the past year is exactly why a transition to renewable energy is needed.
"What we've seen ... is how fragile sometimes our natural gas reserves can be, and so we have seen a little bit of extra reliance on coal that tells us why we generally need to transition our electricity generation as much as possible."
Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage said such decisions were made by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), not her, and were in line with the law as it stands.
LINZ officials said the the access granted was for "a small drill hole programme taking 3 - 5 days, mainly using existing tracks and requiring some small excavations to make a level site".
"Any disturbed soil must be replaced and damaged seedlings replanted (or compensation paid)."