Rainbow Warrior leaves Lyttelton

SOUTHBOUND: The Rainbow Warrior near Kaikoura as it sails down the South Island's east coast.

Banks Peninsula residents took the chance to see an iconic activist ship up close over the weekend.

Greenpeace’s flagship the Rainbow Warrior was docked at Lyttelton for three days after arriving on Friday morning. The ship has been on Greenpeace’s Making Oil History tour.

Crew members gave tours of the ship on Saturday, Sunday and Monday before departing for Dunedin on yesterday morning.

The tour is celebrating New Zealand’s ban on new offshore oil exploration in April and promoting clean energy opportunities.

The Rainbow Warrior, the third ship with the name, came to New Zealand from Southeast Asia, where it had been stationed for a campaign against deforestation.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Kate Simcock said New Zealand’s history with the ship meant it had a “special place” in the country’s heart.

The first Rainbow Warrior was sunk with explosives by French secret service agents in Auckland in 1985, killing crew member Fernando Pereira.

The bombing came after New Zealand declared a nuclear-free zone in the South Pacific.

“It was a moment where we stood up for our principles and stood up to the superpowers,” Ms Simcock said.

“I think that’s again what we’ve done [in banning offshore oil and gas exploration].”

The ship has previously docked in Matauri Bay, Auckland, Whangaparaoa Bay, Wellington and Kaikōura, where actor and environmental activist Lucy Lawless visited the crew.

From Lyttelton, it will continue to Dunedin and Stewart Island.