People along Northland's east coast are being warned to watch for unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore after a strong earthquake in the South Island early today.

Tsunami sirens, which had been earlier activated around Northland as a precaution, have now been turned off, and the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) has updated Northland's status to "beach and marine threat" only.

The CDEM Group has thanked residents who had evacuated to higher ground and says it is now safe for them to return home, although they should keep up to date.

Group spokesman Graeme MacDonald, says areas classed as under beach and marine threat can still expect unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows.

"This means a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities. The severity of currents and changing water flows will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect.

"Past experience has shown us that this could lead to unusual and strong currents throughout today in harbours and coastal areas, including places like the Tutukaka Harbour."

Auckland Civil Defence is monitoring the threat of tsunami waves following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Culverden this morning. No evacuation is required however a marine threat is in place.

Gisborne/East Coast
People in low-lying areas on the Gisborne-East Coast coastline were advised to move to higher ground following a series of severe earthquakes across the South Island but can no return home.


A land threat has been issued for the east coast from Muriwai and Gisborne to Hicks Bay, and a beach and land threat for the whole of the east coast of New Zealand.

Up to 2m waves were expected in low-lying areas but the tsunami is no longer a threat for the Gisborne East Coast area.

Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty Civil Defence is urging residents to listen to the radio because a beach and marine threat has been issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management for the east coast of the North Island.

An NZME reporter said she helt the quake at home, which went on for minutes, she said.

Cupboards and beds were shaking and water in their pool was sloshing from side to side, she said.

Hawke's Bay

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence has cleared all Hawke's Bay residents in low-lying coastal areas to go home but has warned them to stay off the beaches.

​Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said it was asking people to continue listening to messages in case of further earthquakes.

The tsunami threat for the region has been downgraded to "beach and marine only".

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake was strongly felt in Hawke's Bay.

Residents in the Bay report feeling a strong, prolonged shake. A tsunami warning for the entire New Zealand East coast, including East Cape and the Bay, remains in force.


Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall said there had been no reports of damage in the Whanganui district.

Around 10,000 Whanganui properties were without power for about two hours after the quake.

"[There was] a bit of a mess in the Splash Centre," McDouall said in a Facebook post.

He said council's infrastructure staff have been monitoring water and sewerage systems.

The council Emergency Operations Centre had been set up but had not been activated.

"[It's] unlikely to unless things dramatically worsen."


Wellington Civil Defence said a small tsunami is possible for eastern parts of the region although tidal gauges in Wellington Harbour indicate that the largest waves have passed within the harbour, and the sirens are now turned off.

The Fire Service says TSB Arena and BNZ Centre on Wellington's waterfront have sustained most damage.

Civil Defence are strongly advising people not to come into the CBD today to give time for cleanup and owners to check buildings.

Meanwhile, residents of low-lying areas or coastal areas in Wellington are urged to evacuate and stay inland or on high ground due to the continuing threat of a tsunami following this morning's earthquakes.

The advice from the Ministry of Civil Defence is that people living in the tsunami "red zone" - very close to sea level or adjacent to beaches and the coast - should evacuate inland or to higher ground until further notice.

Affected spots include seaside areas of Wellington's south coast, Seatoun and Eastbourne.

The Wellington City Council Emergency Operations Centre and the Wellington Region ECC has been activated.

Other main points so far:
• A number of multi-storey buildings have received internally and structural damage.
• Glass from buildings has fallen into a number of central-city streets
• Hundreds of CBD residents have vacuated and are in safe areas of the city
• Power is off in isolated areas of the Wellington region.

Wellington Region CDEM Controller Bruce Pepperell says inspections are under way of bridges and tunnels around the region and, given early reports of damage to some Wellington CBD buildings - including water damage - it is likely that many CBD workers will be advised to stay home tomorrow.

Civil Defence advises to steer clear of all beaches and tidal estuaries throughout Lower Hutt.

Wellington mayor Justin Lester said the main focus was getting the CBD running again tomorrow and assessing the damage, though early indications were that it was mostly superficial.

A lot of windows had popped out and smashed, which looked worse than it was, a few buildings had cracks and there was some liquifaction along the waterfront.

"It was certainly the strongest quake I've ever felt."


Mayor of the Marlborough District Council, John Leggett, said helicopters were up to analyse the damage and inspectors were going door-to-door.

However, a number of cafes and shops were able to open this morning.

Leggett said the damage was pretty isolated with a few chimneys knocked down and some broken windows.

There had also been reports of a few minor injuries, including one person who cut their foot on broken glass while they were evacuating.

Following the quake, emergency response agencies sprung into action like "a well-oiled machine", which Leggett said was "pretty reassuring".


The small North Canterbury township of Waiau is feared to be worst hit following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the early hours of this morning.

Power is out and phone lines are down but the potted information coming into Cheviot police and fire is that it has sustained widespread damage.

Entry to the town has been closed after the violent shaking ripped open the roads.

The badly damaged Waiau river bridge has reportedly sunk as much as 400mm.

Residents have had to walk across one of the township's bridge to reach help.

Christchurch Civil Defence and Emergency Management has activated its Emergency Operations Centre.

Hurunui District Council Mayor Winton Dalley said two homes in Parnassus, north of Cheviot, were severely damaged and were likely unliveable.

The small village of Mt Lyford is also blocked off, as all roads leading in are impassable. Work is under way to repair the roads as quickly as possible, Dalley said.

Residents were shaken, but "just getting on with what needs to be done".

Dalley said he was not aware of any cows that hadn't been milked this morning.

Civil Defence Controller John Mackie says people in low-lying coastal areas within 1km of the Canterbury coast are instructed to evacuate inland or head to higher ground. Tsunami sirens have been sounding for some time and although their operation may be intermittent, the precautionary evacuation order remains in place.

"We are expecting wave heights of between 2 and 3m from Blenheim to Banks Peninsula. Waves may arrive over the next few hours."

An evacuation centre is being set up at Linwood College.

Mackie encouraged people to stay with friends and family if they can.

"Akaroa School Hall is also open for people who need somewhere to go in the Peninsula."

Other centres will be opened in the city as required.

One rest homes has been evacuated and the other is progressing with moving residents out.

Civil Defence is also in contact with the port and has advised that large moored vessels are safer at sea.

Police have road blocks to prevent people going back to the coastal areas that may be affected by a tsunami. Residents will be advised when it is safe to return.

A list of civil defence groups and locations can be found here.

A christmas tree lies on its side in a shop in Wellington after an earthquake. Photo / EPA
A christmas tree lies on its side in a shop in Wellington after an earthquake. Photo / EPA


A state of emergency remains for Dunedin and the Clutha district. Coastal communities that are at risk from 1m to 3m tsunami are being evacuated.