Papamoa and Mount Maunganui residents are recovering this morning after an early morning evacuation prompted by earthquakes around the country including a 7.5 earthquake in the South Island.

Papamoa resident Shawni Martin said she and husband Anthony slept through the shake but woke to calls and texts from friends and family telling them to get out.

Bay of Plenty Civil Defence issued a tsunami alert 2.06am. The largest earthquake was centred near Hanmer Springs just after midnight.

''It was a bit frightening, it was so unexpected,'' Ms Martin said.

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The couple jumped into their car and headed to higher ground in the hills at Te Puke.

''I was still in shock,'' Ms Martin said.

''There was quite a bit of traffic heading in the same direction. There were lots of cars on the road.''

The couple spent about 30 minutes in the hills before the alert was downgraded.

Other residents have shared concerns about the lack of tsunami sirens in Papamoa, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.

One reader said: ''The amount of people who still think that there are sirens is unbelievable. People sitting in Papamoa were waiting for the 'sirens' and this morning are questioning why the Papamoa fire siren didn't go off - when it never will for a tsunami.''