The Queen has sent a letter of condolence to New Zealand as the nation moves into recovery mode following Monday's devastating magnitude-7.5 earthquake.

"Prince Philip and I were shocked to hear news of the severe earthquakes that struck on Monday," she said in the letter, signed Elizabeth R.

"I send my condolences to the families of those who were killed and to the people whose homes and businesses have been affected. Our thoughts are with you at this time."

One person died at Kaikoura and another at Mt Lyford in the quake.


Kaikoura, with a district population of 3600, was hardest hit. Massive slips have closed access to the town by road.

At least 56 people in Kaikoura were hurt and four patients have already been flown out.

The NZ Defence Force has accepted assistance from a number of nations including the US, Australia and Canada to help evacuate those stranded in the affected areas.