Financial aid is pouring in for earthquake victims with more than $50,000 in the kitty already as New Zealanders dig deep to help stricken residents and tourists.

But it's not just money being given to help the relief effort - Kiwis are opening their homes and hearts to people in need in an outpouring of generosity, the Red Cross said.

An emergency appeal set up by the Red Cross will help provide fresh water, clean-up kits and psychological support to people whose homes have been damaged and lives turned upside down by the 7.5 magnitude quake that rocked central New Zealand at midnight on Sunday.

So far the appeal, which people can donate to either online or via text, has raised more than $50,000 in less than two days.

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The Red Cross sent disaster welfare and support teams to the worst-affected areas of Marlborough, operating a Civil Defence centre in Blenheim and supporting the Civil Defence in Kaikoura with an evacuation centre.

Spokeswoman Gemma Snowdon said the best way to help was to give money so the Red Cross could use it to provide aid to people who have no power, no clean water, no homes, no food, or are simply stranded because of impassable roads.

"That's the best way to help out at the moment because we are still assessing what needs to be done and what people need. One hundred per cent of the funds goes straight to people affected by the earthquake."

Snowdon said the most urgent issue was clean water and Red the Cross will offer water bladders and tap stands for distribution.

The need for psychological support was also strong.

"A lot of the people that we're speaking to were in the Christchurch earthquake so it's not their first earthquake.

"A lot of them are quite nervy. People are quite anxious and it really helps to have someone to talk to."

Red Cross spokeswoman Hanna Butler said the aid agency had been overwhelmed with the numbers of New Zealanders wanting to help.

"They're being incredibly generous. They're donating money and we know that they're opening their homes to people in need."

She said New Zealanders were a "resilient bunch".

"People are getting help first and foremost from their neighbours and people down the street."

Butler, herself evacuated from Wellington's Red Cross office because of damage to a neighbouring building, said though the Red Cross was there to help they weren't always first on the scene in disasters such as this.

"It's your family and your friends and your neighbours. It highlights why we need to be prepared, why we need to know our neighbours and why it's such an important part of being prepared."

A Red Cross Givealittle fund had raised another $4300 to support the homeless with food and shelter.

Other Givealittle appeals were also raising money to help those providing aid or relief to earthquake victims including the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington and a Kaikoura Community Fund.

Meanwhile the Salvation Army is accepting donations of non-perishable items at its office in Blenheim.

Useful items to donate are bottled water, tea, coffee, long life milk, tinned food and toiletries.

Civil Defence will deliver the items to affected residents in Marlborough.

Earthquake relief donations wanted
• Red Cross - Donate money here or text REDCROSS to 3181 make an instant $3 donation
• Givealittle - 2016 November earthquake appeal
• Givealittle - search Westpac Rescue Helicopter earthquake appeal
• Givealittle - search Kaikoura earthquake relief fund
• Givealittle - search Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington
• Salvation Army - donations of non-perishable items to Blenheim office at 35 George St on weekdays between 9am and 2pm