Hundreds of people have reported feeling a short, sharp shock in Rotorua after an earthquake shook the city.

According to GeoNet the quake hit at 10.13pm on Wednesday night and was a magnitude 2.4 centred 5km south of Rotorua at a depth of 10km.

By 10.30pm more than 700 people had reported they had felt the quake on the GeoNet website.

While GeoNet classed the shake as "weak", locals took to social media to comment, with many saying it felt larger than a 2.4.

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"Sure felt bigger than a 2.3 [4] scared the rubbish out of me," one Rotorua Daily Post reader said.

"Thought someone was in the house! Even had things fall over in the garage," another said.

GNS duty seismologist John Ristau said the reason many people felt the quake was that it was quite shallow and very close to Rotorua, about 5km southeast of the city.

"For a small earthquake like that, if it's located quite close to you many people would feel it.

"We have had 727 'felt' reports, but three minutes before that there was a small shake near Seddon, so it's hard to say if they were all reported from the same quake," he said.

Last night's 2.4 magnitude earthquake close to #Rotorua is a timely reminder for us to check furniture and fittings are...

Posted by Rotorua Lakes Council on Wednesday, 15 March 2017