As many as 500 people gathered on high ground at Waitangi Golf Course during yesterday's tsunami warning triggered by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake 1000km northeast of Cape Reinga.
As well as evacuations on land many boaties heeded warnings, broadcast on Russell Radio, to move to water at least 40m deep.
The Ōpua car ferries and Russell-Paihia passenger ferries also made their way to the safety of open sea after the warning around 8.50am.
A cluster of boats could be seen about 4 nautical miles out to sea waiting until the threat had passed.
While police went door-to-door at low-lying homes and businesses most people didn't need to be told to evacuate after a flurry of text alerts and activation of the tsunami siren network.
Evacuees at the golf course included staff from local businesses and holidaymakers such as Rita Fitzgerald from the Bay of Plenty. She had made her way to high ground with her husband, friends and fishing boat.
Spirits were high despite the interruption to their holiday. They were making coffee and had pressed the cabin curtains into service as picnic blankets.
''We're just pretending we're fishing, we've got the marine channel on the boat radio.''
She said the warnings had been more than adequate.
They were first alerted via the news, then social media and text alerts. When a tsunami siren went off outside their window they knew it was serious.
Also waiting until it was safe to go back to Paihia was chef Adriaan Lombaard, who was woken by phone alert and a neighbour banging on his door, with his three-month-old kitten Shadow.
''I left everything else of value. I just took the cat.''
Backpackers waiting out the danger were unfazed, despite never experiencing a tsunami alert before.
Charlotte Ramon, from Belgium, was oblivious until a friend woke her around 9am, saying, ''Dude, didn't you hear the siren? You have to get up.''
Since then she had been phoned by worried parents wanting to know where she was.
''I said, we're on a hill, sunbathing and playing chess. Some guy even brought his kitten up here. So I've had a tsunami evacuation with a kitten. My life is complete now.''
There were reports that the Waitangi River had suddenly emptied around 10.30am.
When the Advocate checked the river was unusually high for mid-tide though no surges were seen.
Firefighters reported unusual water movements around Russell.
Some evacuees started leaving around noon. Those that waited for the all-clear after 1pm enjoyed a free barbecue put on by Countdown and Treaty Grounds staff.