A strong magnitude 5.2 quake was felt widely across central New Zealand early today.

The quake, which was located 15km west of Masterton and struck at a depth of 24km, disrupted commuter train services out of the Wairarapa and prompted checks on the region's bridges.

But while the strong jolt may have frayed nerves and shaken a few china cabinets it appeared the region escaped largely unscathed.

Masterton Police acting senior sergeant Quentin Hoera said there were no reports of harm or damage as yet.


A Central Fire Communications spokesman also confirmed they had not received any calls or reports of damage.

Many who felt today's tremor described it as a "booming" quake which jolted many out of their beds when it struck at 7.41am.

It was followed by scores of light aftershocks, the largest measuring magnitude 3.4.

Several domestic flights due to fly out of the capital at the time the quake shook the region were delayed but otherwise flights in and out of Wellington Airport appeared to be running to schedule.

Trains are set to resume running on the Wairarapa line after this morning's strong earthquake disrupted rail services to the region.

Tranz Metro tweeted commuters would be able to board the Wellington to Masterton service at 12.55pm after buses replaced all trains.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said it would be carrying out usual post-quake assessments around the region to ensure no maintenance was needed on highway bridges.

Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson said the quake rattled the windows of her home.

"It seemed to go on for a while but it wasn't a real swaying earthquake."

Reikorangi woman Anne Galloway described it as a "booming" quake.

"The cat dove under the bed and the ducks went into a total frenzy. Wonder what the sheep thought?"

Others reported on social media houses rattling and rumbling as the vigorous tremor unleashed it force.

Said Pip Clement: "It was quite strong china cabinet was shaking quite badly."

"While house rattled and rumbled... Was not a nice wake up call that's for sure!! " posted Carterton resident Sammie Stannard.

An Upper Plain resident who lives 4km west of Masterton, Di Grant, said the quake lasted for longer than many she had felt at the house before.

"My husband came through to see that I was okay. It was quite vigorous."

Another Upper Plain resident Chelsea Macklin said this morning's earthquake made the trophies in her room shake but nothing fell.

"It was very rumbly and went on for a while."

Geonet said there were more than 2,800 reports of the quake being felt mainly south of Taranaki and Hawke's Bay through to the top of the South Island. There had been more than 20 aftershocks in the hours following the quake but these were expected to decrease in frequency throughout the day.

GNS duty seismologist Caroline Holden said the quake was nothing out of the ordinary for New Zealand.

"It's a good shake, but nothing extremely punchy."

She said so far a good sequence of aftershocks had been felt and were likely to continue with shakes of up to magnitude four.

While she didn't rule out any shakes bigger than the initial 5.2 she said as time went on it was looking less likely.

"It's a gentle reminder that in New Zealand we have to be ready for a big earthquake at any time."