Residents of Collina Tce in Central Wellington have been allowed to briefly return to their houses to collect essential possessions.

About 25 residents were escorted to their houses by urban search and rescue teams and given 20 minutes to collect valuables.

The houses are in a small cul-de-sac directly behind a condemned 10-storey office block at 61 Molesworth St.

The residents were evacuated on Tuesday after engineers said they were in danger because of the possibility of a the building collapsing in an aftershock.