The first of the navy's offshore patrol vessels arrived in its home port of Otago on Thursday.
Hundreds of people turned out to welcome HMNZS Otago when it berthed in Dunedin at 10am.
The 85-metre, $110 million ship will patrol as far south as the Ross Sea in Antarctica and the Pacific islands. It can carry up 35 crew and a Seasprite helicopter.
Commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Simon Rooke says he's delighted to finally put the ship into operation.
The Otago will eventually be joined by HMNZS Wellington.
The navy has extended an invitation to the people of Otago to tour the vessel on Sunday.