There were reports of only superficial damage in Wanganui last night after the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that rocked the city shortly after 5pm.
Stock toppled off shelves in supermarkets and some homeowners reported small items knocked off shelves by the prolonged shaking.
A spokesman for the Wanganui fire service said they had had no call-outs relating to the quake, - actually a series of quakes that started in the Cook Strait area (greatest magnitude 6.5) and progressed north to the Hunterville area (4.4). Damage reported from the Wellington area included collapsed roofs.
Councillor Ray Stevens, chairman of the Wanganui District Council infrastructure and property committee, said that after the quake council workers inspected buildings and infrastructure but could find no damage.
Of most concern was the Sarjeant Gallery, which has a very low earthquake rating.
"At this stage, it seems okay. But it got dark not long after the quake, so we'll be checking it again [today]," Mr Stevens said.
Wanganui residents took to Facebook to share their experiences of the quake.
Barbara Haddock said it was one of the biggest quakes she had felt. "Pretty scary to feel your lawn moving under your feet, power lines shaking and trees moving without wind."
Bethan Check of Springvale said she had suffered no damage "but all my hanging baskets were having a big swing, also trees and power lines". Linda Dowdle said her nerves were "shot to hell".
The reinforced concrete Chronicle building in Taupo Quay shuddered and swayed enough to make the three journalists on duty apprehensive.
A Wellington resident contacted by the Chronicle said the quake was heard first as a slow rumble followed "by a really big jolt" that with the shaking continuing for another 10 seconds or so.