Much of the North Island was shaken awake this morning with a magnitude 7.1 earthquake felt from Northland to Wellington.
The quake hit at 4.37am, around 100km northeast of the East Cape settlement of Te Araroa, at a depth of 55km.
The jolt lasted for almost a minute and was felt across much of the North Island.
The quake was followed by several moderate-sized aftershocks, including a M5.6 jolt at 5.01am, and a M4.6 quake at 5.03am.
At Te Araroa, near the epicentre, Amohi Cook and other residents huddled in their vehicles on hills above the township.
"I woke up about 4.28am, looked at the clock and the house was rocking," she said.
"It was one of the freakiest ones I've ever felt. The local [Department of Conservation] man called up by husband, who is the chief of the Te Araroa fire brigade, and he went and set the alarms off three times to get everyone up.
"We all got in our cars and drove up the hills."
Te Araroa Holiday Park owner Bill Martin said the quake was "very violent" for 5-10 seconds.
"It knocked over a lot of stuff on the shelves in the shop and some ornaments in my lounge.
"The town siren went and some of the guests here went to higher ground and some chose to stay; I chose to stay."
John Campbell, the owner of Hicks Bay Motel & Lodge near Te Araroa, said the quake got worse the longer it went on.
"There was a lot of smashing in the motel; plates off shelves and bottles off shelves in the motel."
Liz Koia, the owner of Eastern Four Square in Te Araroa, said she felt very lucky the store wasn't damaged.
"We were let off lightly. We don't have any breakages. There was just a few small things like muesli bars and shampoos that had fallen down.
"We picked them and opened about half an hour ago."
People had been buying things as normal, as opposed to stocking up in case of further quakes.
"We're a very tightnit community," Koia said. "People have just been coming in to get a few things and talk about what's happened."
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon posted a video on Facebook of a chandelier shaking during the quake.
Newstalk ZB Gisborne reporter Murray Robertson said he was woken by his bed shaking.
"I got out of bed and the whole house was shaking. It was more of a rolling movement, than a sharp jolt.
"Things were moving and rattling in the house. It kept going and going. I thought it would get worse."
Anton McKay, who lives in Patutahi, 15 minutes from Gisborne, had significant damage at his property.
"There are big cracks in the ceiling beams, about 40cm long. There are also cracks in the walls and the water tanks are hammered.
"The tanks have got cracks in the top and bottom, and they're both leaking water. They'll need to be replaced.
"The kitchen's warped. The cupboards and drawers are buckled, and heaps of the glasses and plates are smashed."
McKay said he felt everything cracking during the quake.
"It went on and on. It was a rolling sound. I could hear things cracking and stuff falling off the shelves.
"The swimming pool was sloshing water. It was going about 30cm high and landing in the carport, about 10 metres from the pool."
Andrew Stevenson, who lives in Tauranga, said the quake felt like "a small child bouncing on my bed".
"It went on for 30 seconds and woke everyone in the house up. [It was the] worst one I've ever felt, and I was in Canterbury during their big earthquakes in 2012."
Mieke Scott said he and his 6-year-old son felt the quake on Auckland's North Shore.
"He woke up saying 'It's shaking, is it an earthquake?' then burst out crying. I had to hop into bed with him to console him."
Bhanu Sivakumar was woken in Otorohanga.
"It was just really horrible. I thought I was convulsing and was waiting for some aftershocks. The bed is on wheels and was moving around the room and I was quite scared.
"[The room] started rocking and I thought I was imagining it."
New Plymouth woman Stephanie Burgess was woken by a "bit of a roll" about 4.40am.
She said the rolling earthquake didn't go on for too long but it was enough to wake both her and the family cat up.
"At first I thought [husband] Martin was moving in the bed, then it kept going , and I realised it was a quake. It went on for a bit."
That was one of the strongest shakes I've ever felt. Hope everyone on coast is ok and safe, esp Te Araroa. Have spoken with CD Minister.— Anne Tolley (@AnneTolleyMP) September 1, 2016
Certainly felt 7.1 #earthquake on 9th floor in Auckland least this one just woke me unlike Chch sept 4 th 2010 one that threw me out of bed— Sue Foley (@suefoleyNZ) September 1, 2016