People along Northland's east coast are being warned to stay away from beaches and estuaries after dark today and keep abreast of latest updates throughout the day after tsunami warnings issued in the wake of a large earthquake off Chile.

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) issued an official tsunami warning (marine and beach threat) for East Cape, Chatham Islands, Coromandel, and Banks Peninsula just after noon today in the wake of the reportedly 8.3 magnitude quake.

The Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group says at this stage MCDEM has not specifically included Northland in that warning, however, this may change.

Northland CDEM Group spokesman Graeme MacDonald says given that developing situation, the best advice is for Northlanders to adopt a prudent approach.

He says typically, the impacts of an earthquake so far away could take a number of hours to impact on New Zealand, with the Ministry's initial information suggesting this would occur around midnight tonight.

"However, until advised otherwise, from this evening Northlanders in the coastal areas should stay out of the water, which means the sea, rivers and estuaries and includes boating activities. Stay off beaches and shore areas and do not go sightseeing."

He says Civil Defence, local authority, emergency service and other officials will be monitoring the situation closely and the Northland CDEM Group will release new information as it comes to hand from the Ministry.

"We will rely on official guidance from MCDEM as it comes to hand today, however, in the past similar events have seen strong tidal surges affecting some of our harbours, most notably the Tutukaka Harbour.

Mr MacDonald says information will be posted on the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group's (CDEM) Facebook page - www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland - or the Northland Regional Council's website via www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence

He says people should also turn on their local radio stations and listen for advice/updates from Civil Defence.

At this stage tsunami sirens have not been activated locally, however, that too could change.

"Rather than triggering evacuations, tsunami sirens are designed to alert people that they need to seek further information about potential tsunami risks from official sources."

"Information about the North's tsunami siren network warning system - including audio of what the sirens sound like can be found at www.nrc.govt.nz/tsunamisirens