Civil Defence Minister Chris Tremain says last night's earthquake is a timely reminder for New Zealanders to be earthquake prepared.

The Ministry of Civil Defence Management has just upgraded its ShakeOut website with a link that now provides information about regional earthquake hazards.

Mr Tremain said earthquake hazards varied from region to region, but there was no room for complacency.

"All of New Zealand is earthquake prone. A major earthquake could happen anywhere and people need to know what to do when that happens. Understanding a hazard helps in any emergency situation,'' said Mr Tremain.


"The message is very simple Drop, Cover and Hold,'' said Mr Tremain.

Last night's quake struck at 10.36pm, 60km south-west of Opunake in Taranaki, at a depth of 230km.

It was felt strongly around the west coast of the lower North Island, and was widely felt from Bay of Plenty to Canterbury.

The ShakeOut aims to have one million people in New Zealand do a "Drop, Cover and Hold" drill at 9.26am on September 26.

It will be the first nationwide earthquake drill in the world and will be the biggest earthquake public education campaign ever staged in New Zealand.

The Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, John Hamilton said, "We need to know what to do in an earthquake, and practice it as our nationwide earthquake drill. Drop, Cover and Hold is the right action to take in an earthquake.''

"It is important for businesses and workplaces to be involved too - earthquakes can happen at any time. That is why the drill is timed for a weekday morning when people will be going about their normal day to day business.

So far more than 200,000 people have signed up to the shake out, including schools, iwi, community groups and individuals.

"New Zealand ShakeOut is for everybody, at home, school, work, on holiday, wherever we might be at 9:26-26:9.''