"Breathe, everything will be okay," were the words Susan Jensen woke up to yesterday.

Her step-mother was on the phone, reassuring family in Christchurch just after the 12.02am earthquake shook New Zealand awake.

The Papamoa resident picked up her phone and then saw all the text messages from friends and loved ones checking she was okay.

"There was no way I could go back to sleep," she said.


A friend from Australia then called her and told her to leave her home just as the first text alert from the Civil Defence came through at 2.15am.

She and her husband Brad woke up their two children and raced towards the Papamoa Hills.

"It was amazing, dozens of other cars were piling out of their homes. It was quite scary at the time."

Mrs Jensen and her family met the rest of her husband's family at the Welcome Bay Rd turn-off on Te Puke Highway, along with the family dogs.

"I'd rather go and know we were safe. We had four cars between us, plus all the animals including seven dogs."

Originally from Christchurch, Mrs Jensen said her heart sunk when she first heard the news.

"I have lived in the Bay 10 years but I saw the aftermath from the other quakes. There will be a lot of stressed people down there and it's not easy when you have loved ones there too."

Mrs Jensen said she had always been signed up to the Civil Defence warnings.

"I don't live in fear but I like to be aware of what is happening."

Mount Maunganui resident Kelly-Anne Foley said she and her family felt the quake.

"My daughter [14] was genuinely freaked out for the first time ever, seeing and feeling everything in her bedroom wobbling and moving."

They waited for alerts, sirens, and information on what to do before starting to pack and leave their home, she said.

"Then the next Civil Defence alert came through at 2.38am saying marine threat, no need to evacuate.

I packed my four kids and dog in the car and evacuated. I rang my neighbours and they had also slept through the whole thing.


"I've never seen my children's faces so scared by a bump in the night in years. They have only been in New Zealand a year, from Australia, and are unfamiliar with earthquakes. They were really scared and shaken up."

Abigail Waters slept through the earthquake and Civil Defence texts but woke to a call from a friend.

"I packed my four kids and dog in the car and evacuated. I rang my neighbours and they had also slept through the whole thing."

Others were just starting to evacuate from Golden Sands when she left home, headed for the Welcome Bay Hills.

Mrs Waters said a siren alert was definitely needed.

"I would have woken up and either gone or checked on TV or Facebook what's happening ... my phone was on vibrate and I only woke to a call ... then I started ringing other people around my area all who were still fast asleep and would have stayed asleep if I didn't call."