Coastal communities in Central Hawke's Bay, from Kairakau to Whangaehu, were either evacuated or self-evacuated in the wake of the 7.5 earthquake that shook most of the country awake early this morning.

CHB District Council regulatory services manager Te Aroha Cook said that after monitoring the situation the Emergency Operations Centre was activated in the early hours and closed at 9.15 this morning.

"We evacuated all the coastal communities and there were some who self-evacuated as well."

Mayor Alex Walker congratulated those in coastal areas who self-evacuated following the quake.

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"Civil Defence has been trying to drum into us that if a quake is 'long and strong then be gone' and it has obviously been working as people from Kairakau to Whangaehu, quickly moved from the beach front to seek higher ground."

The tsunami risk from the quake was uncertain for a period of time, but when given the word, the local CHB Civil Defence centre kicked into action and immediately began liaising with local Civil Defence wardens and police around the district to ensure the safety of communities in low-lying coastal areas by following evacuation protocols.

As well as the civil defence plan, council staff were working since early this morning inspecting key roads, water and waste systems.

As yet, there had been no reports of damage but staff urged homeowners and landowners to check their properties too.

"We are a big district with many miles of pipes and roads so we urge you to help us by contacting the council if you come across any damage," said Ms Walker.

With the possibility of ongoing earthquake activity she urged people to continue to look out for family, neighbours and friends.

"It wasn't our turn this time, but that doesn't mean we should be complacent. As the Canterbury region knows, aftershocks and continuing activity can pose a real threat. Please be safe."

Business and shop owners or workers spoken to said that surprisingly there was no damage to report when they got to work this morning.