UPDATED: The beach and marine threat, which was issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence earlier this morning, has been lifted for Bay of Plenty.
Group controller Clinton Naude said people in coastal areas should continue to exercise caution.
"The seas will remain unsettled for sometime yet so at this stage we are still recommending people stay out of the water and off the beaches", Mr Naude said.
People in coastal areas should:
- Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
- Stay off beaches and shore areas
- Do not go sightseeing
- Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
EARLIER: A beach and marine threat put in place after a major earthquake centred in the South Island early this morning remains for the Bay of Plenty.
Emergency services have confirmed at least one person has died in Kaikoura, where a 7.5 quake at 12.02am just north of Hanmer Springs has prompted a tsunami warning for the east coast of the South Island and shut down State Highway 1 until further notice.
Bay of Plenty residents have reported feeling the large earthquakes that have shook the country this morning.
Natasha Attewell said on the Bay of Plenty Times Facebook page that she felt the quake in Mount Maunganui just after 12am and all her light shades were rocking.
For the initial earthquake, GeoNet has recorded almost 16,000 "felt" reports from people all over the country, including a large number in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.
Many locals took to the websites to record how strongly they felt the quake, some saying they felt it lightly, others saying it was extreme.
An NZME reporter said she could feel the quake at home, which went on for minutes, she said.
Cupboards and beds were shaking and water in their pool was sloshing from side to side, she said.
A beach and marine threat, which was issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management for the east coast of the North Island earlier this morning, still exists for Bay of Plenty.
For residents that chose to evacuate it is safe to return home.
Group controller Clinton Naude said the Bay community should exercise caution around beaches, estuaries, rivers and streams today.
"The unsettled seas may still cause changes to currents, tides and wave patterns. We will continue to monitor the situation throughout the morning, he said.
People in the coastal areas should:
•Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
•Stay off beaches and shore areas
•Do not go sightseeing
•Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
•Follow instructions of local civil defence authorities
As the situation evolves, more information will be available. A list of relevant radio frequencies and websites are listed at the end of this release.