An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale has struck the central North Island this afternoon.

The quake hit at 12.46pm and had a focal depth of 60km.

It was felt widely throughout the Hawkes Bay area and as far north as Opotiki, according to the GNS website.

Over 100 homes and businesses reported feeling the quake, less than 30 minutes after it struck 40km east of Turangi.

Hawkes Bay Civil Defence coordinator Nigel Simpson said the regional council got a number of calls from people who had felt the quake but he did not feel it himself.

"Staff have described it as a gentle swaying earthquake," Mr Simpson said.

He said while the quake was widely felt, there are no reports of damage.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE