LATEST: Protesters, including actress Lucy Lawless, have had a comfortable night atop the derrick of the Noble Discoverer, a Greenpeace spokesperson says.

Seven activists climbed onboard the Shell drill ship bound for the Arctic at 7am yesterday and have now been protesting for more than 24 hours.  Nathan Argent said the group were committed to their cause and the mission to stop the ship from sailing was still the same.

"We only take action when we feel we've come to the end of the rope," he said.

"If Shell were to make a commitment to stay out of the Arctic it would change things."

The group are well equipped,  have enough food and the gear to last a couple of days, he said.

Yesterday, police boarded the boat and told the activists they were under arrest.

However, the protesters had successfully blocked access to their vantage point and police left the ship last night.

"Although the protestors are breaking the law by being aboard the ship, they are in an isolated location on the ship which allows both the Port and the ship to operate their normal business," Inspector Blair Telford said last night.

"We have considered various options and we have the skills, capabilities and equipment to deal with all options. However safety remains paramount and we won't needlessly jeopardise the safety of our staff, the crew of the ship or the protestors."

Mr Argent said the protesters did not hear from police overnight, but were expecting police to take action today.

One man was arrested yesterday in relation to the protest, but he was not one of those onboard.

The protesters are being supported by other Greenpeace members in New Plymouth at an undisclosed location.

(See more on the AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Save The Arctic Event Page)

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