Whanganui has been shaken by a strong earthquake.

The magnitude 4.6 earthquake was centred 25km south-west of Whanganui at a depth of 18km. It struck at 12.54pm.

The earthquake was preceded by a loud rumbling noise, which many commenters on the Wanganui Chronicle Facebook page likened to a train or truck passing by.

Colvin Molineux said he was at home when the earthquake struck, and initially thought something had crashed into his house.

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"[There's] no damage except I nearly needed some new pants," Mr Molineux said.

Leila Mallett was in Aramoho and described it as a "pretty good deep shake".

"Heard the rumble which just sounded like the train going by next min a big jolt and then the shaking."

The GeoNet website, which records earthquakes and people's experiences of them, said the earthquake was felt from Taumarunui in the north to Blenheim in the south.

There have so far been no reports of damage.