Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith has called for the residents of Kaikoura to "keep calm and carry on" following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck 15km north-east of Culverden just after midnight last night.

Smith told TVNZ's Breakfast that both he and the residents of Kaikoura were dealing with what was in front of them, which includes extensive damage throughout the region.

The town is currently without water and sewage, while State Highway 1 along the eastern coastline of the South Island is currently closed with large landslides blocking off large sections of the highway.

Smith stated that as Hanmer Springs is located within the elctorate of Kaikoura, he intends to visit the town via helicopter within the next few hours to assess all damage, with the town not far from the epicentre of the earthquake.

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Two deaths have been confirmed, with one person killed following a historic homestead in Kaikoura collapsed.