A deep seismic-reflection profile shot across the South Taranaki basin, New Zealand, indicates up to 10 km of crustal thickening beneath the Taranaki boundary fault at the eastern margin of the basin. The seismic data also show a broad flexure of the entire crust, the locus of the flexure-producing load appearing to be in the vicinity of the Taranaki boundary fault. Such crustal thickening and flexure suggest a compressional, foreland-basin style of late Cenozoic development rather than the rift-graben origin previously assumed. This change in interpretation for the South Taranaki basin has implications for evaluating the thermal history of the basin and its possibilities for hydrocarbon prospects. The study therefore demonstrates the value of deep seismic exploration of a hydrocarbon-bearing basin in its early stage of exploration.