The 4.7-magnitude earthquake that rocked parts of Otago last night was believed to be the strongest experienced in the region since 1974.

It struck at 11.17pm at a depth of 7km, centred 2km northeast of Lee Stream, some 30km west of Dunedin.

The quake was felt in various parts of Otago, but there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

Adrian Bardrick, publican at the Clarks Junction Hotel, on State Highway 87, only about 12km from the epicentre, said they received a pretty good "sort of thump".


It rattled the bottles, he said.

"But there was no damage."

The hotel was cleaning up after a good evening.

"The Strath Taieri boys had beaten the West Taieri boys" in rugby and had called in on their way home.

They had left by the time of the quake.

The largest quake significantly affecting Dunedin in the past several decades was on April 9, 1974. It was magnitude 5 and dislodged grocery stock and damaged some chimneys.

The quake on October 16 last year was magnitude 4.1 at a depth of 4km and in almost the same place as last night's shake.

Police early this morning received several calls but no reports of damage.


Otago Daily Times columnist Dave Cannan said: "It seemed to go on for some time - and I started to wonder if it was going to stop. Fairly scary, I have to say."

The ODT Facebook page attracted plenty of comments.

"My sister lives up near Lee Stream and she said it sounded like a huge explosion! Scary enough here in Mosgiel," Jenny Hooper posted.

Another Mosgiel resident, Megan Direen, wrote: "Short sharp violent shaking. Sounded like a freight train smashing through the house."

Emilee Bartlett, also in Mosgiel, said it was "very loud and violent!"

There were other reports that it "was pretty exciting in Outram" and several people said their houses shook alarmingly.

Rhonda Hooper posted: "It was two or three strong sideways moving jolts here ... on the sand at Harington Point. My heart is still thumping madly."

Davinia Neale, of Herbert, described it as "very loud and a good shake!", while Donna Osborne, in Lawrence said it "almost jolted me out of bed and very loud".

Vivienne Donaldson said: "Definitely heard and felt it in Wakari ... Or are we in Maori Hill now? House moved heaps! Will be hard to sleep now ..."

Another Wakari resident, Lisa Gurr, posted: "I'm in Wakari, too, and that was horrible."

In Opoho, Sally Knox said: "Our whole house was rumbling and shaking. Husband slept through it, but I am wide awake now like a nervous chihuahua."

Among comments on Twitter, Clare Curran, South Dunedin member of Parliament posted: "Very loud big shake in Musselburgh, Dunedin. Sounded and felt like a freight train."

On the Otago Peninsula, Paul le Compte tweeted: "Wow our strawbale house on Otago Peninsula has NEVER wobbled like that."

Otago Museum director Ian Griffin tweeted: "Felt my first Earthquake in NZ! Only taken 2 years."

All Black and Highlander Aaron Smith said: "Sleep Safe Dunedin Peps. If u can. Hahah I'm wide awake."