The new Rainbow Warrior is sailing towards Dunedin to campaign but a Dunedin city councillor says residents should decide on the future of deep-sea drilling in Otago.
Greenpeace New Zealand communications officer Dean Baigent-Mercer said the third Greenpeace ship to carry the Rainbow Warrior name would dock in New Zealand ports for the first time next year.
Free public tours of the ship were planned for Dunedin, Oban on Stewart Island, Bluff, Auckland and Wellington, he said.
The ship was sailing from Sri Lanka and although the arrival time was weather dependent, it was expected to dock in Dunedin on January 31 for three days.
On board would be 30 crew and campaigners, who would share stories with the public, he said.
Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner Steve Abel said a campaign would begin at the first port of call in Northland about the risks of deep-sea oil drilling.
However, Dunedin City Council's finance, strategy and development committee chairman Cr Syd Brown said he was unaware Rainbow Warrior was coming to Dunedin to campaign against deep-sea drilling.
"If they choose to oppose the exploration of minerals, that's their choice, but they don't have the right to impose their will on anyone or the city of Dunedin."
Because the drilling was for gas, and not oil, there was less environmental concern, he said.
He had met oil companies and had been reassured their health and safety standards were greater than the New Zealand Government required. Deep-sea drilling would create big economic gains for Dunedin, he said.
"Which we lack at the moment."
Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said donations from New Zealand funded the wet room on Rainbow Warrior, where activists boarded inflatables.