Protesters took to the beaches beaches from the eastern Bay of Plenty to Gisborne at midday on Sunday in opposition to offshore oil exploration.
The Brazilian company Petrobras has been granted a permit by the Government to explore the Raukumara Basin off East Cape.
Organisers estimate several hundred people joined the protest. About 60 were at Kaiti Beach in Gisborne.
Fires were lit and slogans written in the sand; "No to Petrobras".
Protest organisers say there is widespread concern on the East Coast, about the environmental risks of an oil drilling operation in the Raukumara Basin off East Cape.
They claim Petrobras has a disastrous environmental record and say there was no consultation with residents or Maori about the exploration contract.
Organisers say Sunday's vigil was a nice start to ongoing action they say will continue until the Government gets the message and revokes the permit it's issued to Petrobras to drill for oil in the Raukumara Basin.