Tens of thousands of New Zealanders were shaken by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake centred near Wellington last night - described by some as “massive” and “scary”.
The quake started with a large jolt followed by at least 30 seconds of moderate shaking.
GeoNet says the quake took place at 7.38pm around 50km northwest of Paraparaumu at a depth of 48km. It classed the shaking as strong.
More than 60,000 Kiwis reported feeling the quake with the official GeoNet site, including in Auckland and Christchurch. One resident of the Garden City described it as a rolling sensation as opposed to “jolty”.
The National Emergency Management Agency has advised there is no tsunami threat.
The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office said aftershocks should be expected.
A short time later another earthquake, this one magnitude 4.0, hit 45km southwest of Taumarunui and at a depth of 78km.
“It was like a freight train hurtling past our house,” said David Haxton, who lives in Raumati Beach, of the first quake.
”My wife, our two kids, and I quickly gathered under a doorway and waited for the shaking to subside.
”It felt like it lasted for about 30 seconds. Everyone’s heartbeats were racing.
”The family dog was more interested in the food on our dinner plates as we scarpered to the doorway.”
Nelson’s Jan McCallum said the quake started with gentle shaking, then “big jolts”.
”The whole two-storied house shook fiercely!”
Newstalk ZB’s chief political reporter Aaron Dahmen, in Wellington, said he felt “a big bump, and then the whole house shook aggressively for about 30 seconds, before swaying. A steady rumble followed for some time.”
ZB’s Nick James, also in the capital, said it “shook all the items in my flat quite badly — swayed my apartment building from side to side for a good 30 seconds”.
Taranaki’s Ilona Hanne said her house was shaking and rolling for quite a while.
One Wellingtonian told the Herald the rumble was strong enough for her son to take action and dive under their desk.
Another from Christchurch said they “felt it strong”, thinking it must have been nearby before being told it struck north of Wellington.
At least one flight from Auckland had to hold off on its descent into Wellington following the quake.
“As if a cyclone wasn’t enough, Wellington has now been struck by a moderate quake,” the captain told passengers while they were in the air.
He said the runway was being checked for any damage so they would have to circle while those inspections were carried out. The flight has since landed.
Tonight’s quake comes after a “moderate” 4.4 magnitude earthquake shuddered Gisborne residents amid the onslaught of Cyclone Gabrielle on Monday night.
That quake struck 25km west of the city at a depth of 25km at 7.45pm and was felt by at least 1154 people, some as far as Taupō.
”As if heavy rain and wind isn’t enough,” one Gisborne resident told the Herald.
On February 4, more than 11,000 people felt a magnitude 4.8 quake that struck near Te Aroha.
More to come