A Tauranga family caught up in Sunday's 5.7 magnitude earthquake were relieved they were in such a wide open space during the shake which lasted about 20 seconds.

Lisa and Warren Broadmore had travelled to Christchurch on Friday with their three children for a touch rugby tournament which their eldest son, Jake, was playing in.

"Their last game had just finished. We were just congratulating the boys on their win against Auckland and the shaking started," Mrs Broadmore said. "It was certainly a good shake, that's for sure."

She said the earthquake lasted about 20 seconds.

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"I suppose that's a long time for the ground to be rocking and rolling."

Mrs Broadmore said everyone cottoned on to what was happening pretty quickly but no one around them seemed too worried.

"I think the younger children, the initial reaction was, 'that was cool'. No one was really scared. It was just, I suppose, a bit of relief when it passed."

The family were in Hagley Park at the time which was probably one of the safest places in the city, Mrs Broadmore said.

"We were quite relieved that we were in such a wide open space. That was probably the best place to be."

Despite that the family and others at the park all moved away from the trees which were nearby.

The family stayed on to watch the other finals but were quick to turn the news on when they got back to their accommodation to see just how bad the earthquake was.