Research vessel Tangaroa has set sail on Wednesday for the remote Kermadec Arc to study the mineral exploitation potential of deep-sea volcanoes.
The area scientists are heading to on the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research ship is situated 200km north-east of Auckland.
The volcanoes are thought to be rich in valuable minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, zinc, lead and gold.
Volcanologist Richard Wysoczanski says one of the aims will be to determine which areas could eventually be safely mined.
He says this will involve finding non-active deep-sea volcanic areas, as temperatures can be as hot as 300 degrees Celsius, making mining potentially difficult.
The Tangaroa will be in the Kermadec Arc for 17 days.