Key Points:

  • 6.2 magnitude earthquake, 25km south-west of Taumarunui
  • Felt widely around the lower North Island and upper South Island
  • No immediate reports of damage
  • Parliament temporarily suspended but now resumed
  • No tsunami threat

A 6.2 magnitude quake has shaken much of New Zealand this afternoon.

Geonet says nearly 15,500 people felt the quake from as far away as Auckland and Bluff.

People in Wellington reported it went on for around 30 seconds.

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It is one of the largest earthquakes in New Zealand since a Magnitude 7.8 tremor struck near Kaikoura in November 2016, which killed two people.

Parliament was suspended due to the quake. Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley made the decision after the quake seemed to roll on for some time, shaking the cameras filming proceedings.

The sitting of Parliament was suspended to allow time for a check of the buildings and staff. It was resumed about 3.40pm.

The quake was at a depth of 165km and hit at 3.13pm 20km south west of Taumarunui.

There is no tsunami threat.

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi said there have been no reports of damage across the country.

He said the Ministry of Civil Defence got in touch with the Manawatu/ Wanganui Civil Defence group and confirmed there had been no reports of any damage at this stage.

"We are still making sure we work through the process of contacting everyone to see if there is any."

But if there was anything major – "we would have probably heard about it by now."

He said Civil Defence would continue to check to makes sure there was no damage.

Faafoi said the quake was a "timely reminder of some of the basics in and around dropping, covering and holding."

He said it had "obviously given people a bit of a shake" and asked people to be vigilant.

"Make sure you're checking on your neighbours, friends and family."

He was not aware of any increased risk of volcanic activity as a result of the quake and thus far, there had been no reports of this being the case.

Wellington Airport said all flights in and out of the airport are operating as per schedule.

A Christchurch Fire and Emergency spokesman said his whole office based in the CBD felt the quake. "It was quite a significant shake but no damage or injuries have been reported yet."

Rachel Stewart felt the quake in rural Whanganui.

Olivia Allison felt the quake in Palmerston North.

"Wholly [sic] crap we just had an epic quake in palmy. First Big one since I've been back. Just keeps going," she said on Twitter.

The Hits presenter Brodie Kane tweeted: "So I actually woke from a nap into the earthquake and it wasn't even in the same island as me...holy sh**!"

Wellington Fire and Emergency spokesman said no injuries or damaged had been reported in the area as of yet.

A North Canterbury resident said the quake was "quite noticeable".

A Christchurch man said the quake felt "yuck". He said he was six floors up in a concrete-clad government building that began to sway.

A Rotorua resident said it felt like it went on for ages.

Wellington-based Herald reporter Lucy Bennett said the shaking was quite gentle.

"There was a gentle shake and a jolt. It kept rolling on and then there was another jolt," Bennett said.

After the shaking she went outside to see if there was any damage and said "life was continuing as normal".

Tejinder Chawla wrote: "I felt the earthquake in Wellington Wills Street. Felt it 1st time and was little shaky.. as almost dropped my coffee on me."

Wellington resident Kasey MacKinnon - who has just moved up from Christchurch - said it went on for a while. "Biggest one I've felt in a long time and first one since moving to Wellington two months ago."

Donna Field said she felt "quite a significant shake in Greytown Wairarapa. Went for about 30 seconds. Made the building creak and sway back and forth. "

Students and teachers still at Whanganui Girls' College at the time of the quake sought refuge under door jambs and desks, the Whanganui Chronicle reports.

Staff at The Christchurch Transport Operations Centre described it as "a good shake". "It had our building rocking and rolling, the location of the earthquake was certainly not where we expected it must have been. Hopefully everyone is ok and there is no significant damages anywhere".

Christchurch resident Alesha Boon said the hospital "rocked and rolled like a boat for what seemed like ages".

The quake was also felt strongly in Hastings. One woman said the carpark was "rolling underneath me at Countdown".

A woman at Ashcott Homestead in Central Hawke's Bay said she felt the quake hit. "We live in a 160 year old Homestead which felt like it was rolling on ocean waves (I climbed under the kitchen table just in case!)"

Despite the quake being centred about 35km south-west of Taumarunui, Ruapehu District Council Don Cameron said he didn't feel it.

He said he had checked the council building and there was no sign of damage.

He also had not heard of damage elsewhere in the town but was set to go for a drive to chat to others and have a closer look.

"Some people felt it but others like me didn't at all," he said.

"No one had to dive under a desk or anything like that – it wasn't that sort of quake."

Gladys Ford said it felt like a big machine had fallen on her house "then the shake.

"Knew it was a real earthquake somewhere close."

MacLean said "it was a scary earthquake in Wellington. I'm on the sixth floor and it went on for some time. But nothing fell over, no computers fell over, nothing got broken, but people are quite rattled. That's the sum of it in Wellington, but it's very early obviously.

MacLean said he's not received any reports as yet of damage in Wellington, but the council's emergency staff are talking to infrastructure and transport people to see if any checks are needed.

Tracy Richmond was in her car in Nelson. "The ground moved, it seemed to carry on for ages, I was parked outside my daughters school and I could hear screams coming from the college! Scary stuff!"

James Baker was in Wanganui. "First time I've felt need to exit the house during an earthquake - no damages as far as I can tell maybe some cracked glass."

Napier resident Jonathon Smith said he grabbed his dogs, hopped in his car and left immediately. "I live right by the coast so we were scared there was going to be a tsunami."

"The first one was quite short and sharp and then there was a pause and I thought it might be over then there was a stronger shake that went on for about 30 seconds."

Rohan Goodsir said the quake felt "pretty close" in Castlecliff.

"Some definite shudders and a few dropped pieces of art and smashed frames. Glad it wasn't worse!"

Wellington's Metlink said bus, train and ferry services are operating normally.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said it was wildly felt in the lower north island West Coast region. "It was a funny one, it wasn't a big jolt but it sort of rolled and rolled. Everyone is talking about it down here."

"We've had no reports of damage yet I'm just heading back to council now so will keep you informed."

Staff at Taumarunui's Twin Rivers Motel also didn't feel any shaking and were surprised to have been told by the Herald that the town had been close to the centre of the large quake.

However, Tizzy Wheeler, the owner of the town's Mitre 10 outlet, said she did feel the quake.

"My computer screen did a bit of a rattle and I thought to myself, 'Oh what's going on here', and the blinds were swinging but we haven't had any stock off the shelf and nothing's been damaged in the shop," she said.

She said her phone had been running hot, however, with people checking to see if she was alright.

"My son lives in Palmerston and he rang up very quickly to check on us because he felt a big shake there and thought it must be really bad there."

"But it's almost as if it's being felt worse further afield."

Palmerston North resident Bridget Schraders said she took the opportunity to teach her 3-year-old the turtle hold. "The 8 month old thought it was great fun when I demonstrated over the top of her," Schraders wrote on Facebook.

Peter Lintern said it was felt it badly in Dannevirke, saying "what a rumble."

Brittany Whitten also felt the quake.

"Jumped the desk and so did my other colleges. It went on and on! It wasn't that big but two things ran through my mind. 1.Is this the big one we are overdue for?? If so S***!!! 2. I hope the Royals are taking in their unplanned NZ experience!"

Pregnant mum Leticia O'Loughlin was sitting outside her home in the small town of Taihape, south of Mt Ruapehu on SH1, when the quake hit.

She immediately ran inside to check on her kids and found them well drilled and ready to give her instructions on what to do.

"They yelled, 'Get under the table', and so we all jumped under the table and rode it ," she said.

"It was pretty scary because I'm 34 weeks pregnant and I didn't really want to shake the baby out."

She said the kids did really well in their "heads down, bum up" position they were taught at school.

The earthquake lasted about 30-40 seconds but felt like it lasted much longer, O'Loughlin said.

It was the biggest quake she had ever experienced and it sounded like it was going to knock over her "China cabinet", but in the end nothing was damaged.

She said she was also waiting to hear from her husband, who is at work at Tangiwai Sawmill, to make sure he is OK.

The Mason family of Palmerston North said the quake felt like a big truck coming down the road – "loud rumbling & shaking. Sent our little dog bravely barking off around the house."

Housing NZ Chairwoman Adrienne Young-Cooper was at the Wellington Airport when the quake struck.

"At Wellington Airport when #eqnz struck, a lively buildin , a long gentle tremor, followed by unmistakable big long shake with a real sway in the terminal. 2 minutes after it stops PA system repeats 'earthquake drop cover and hold' zero compliance, shake long over. Hmmm, " she tweeted.

Zoe Hold was in a high rise when the quake struck. "Thought it was windy in my high rise commercial building but then it didn't stop and my computers were shaking. First earthquake ever - not a bad one either."

Dianne Reader was volunteering in the Oncology Unit at Whangarei Hospital when the quake struck.

"The building is solid concrete. I happened to be standing still when I felt the floor moving like a slight vibration. I start at 12pm so it was some time after that. Thought it was odd a solid building vibrating like that and didn't realise there had been earth quake until I got home at 3pm."

Posts to Whanganui Chronicle's Facebook page have reported items falling off shelves.

BP Whanganui East is without Eftpos. Fire and Emergency have not received any calls as of yet. Bottles fell off shelves at Whanganui East Four Square.

Vivienne Guthrie wrote: "That was a sharp jolt felt in Napier city, lasted about 20 seconds. It sent my fur baby Pipi and I under the kitchen table. She was shaking uncontrollably, me a bit, we are ok. No damage."

Craig Woodworth felt the quake in Picton's Waikawa Bay. "It felt like two coz it hit then stopped for a couple of seconds then hit again, nothing like Kaikoura but enough to make the house talk."

A Napier lecturer Dr Ram Roy said he was teaching a class of international students when the earthquake hit and they were terrified.

"They had never felt anything like it so were quite scared.

"I was writing on the whiteboard when it started to shake like a drunk person.

"After the earthquake stopped they left me all alone...this exodus was even scarier than the earthquake itself.

"It's normal now, and I can hear the birds chirping on the trees...maybe they are scared too."

Whanganui District Council has had no reports of damage in the district but its parks and property staff are out checking council facilities.

The council's emergency manager Tim Crowe said it was a good time to review family plans and emergency readiness at work and home.

He said anyone who believed they had property or possessions damaged as a result of the quake should take photos and notify their insurance company.

Whanagnui mayor Hamish McDouall said they had checked on the isolated areas up the river and no considerable damaged has been reported.

"I was down town when it happened and the shop windows started wobbling which was pretty scary.

"We've had a few reports of things fallen of shelves but other than that no major damage has been reported.

"Our main concern is land slipping up the Whanganui river and our civil defense team will be keeping an eye on that."

Thirsty Liquor Hastings store manager Manpreet Signh said they had one customer at the time. "He was in the chiller and he just ran out of the store".

New World Hastings had 10 items fall off the shelves during the quake.

Hawke's Bay emergency management group controller Ian McDonald, who experienced the quake from upstairs in Heretaunga House, Hastings said about 3.30pm there had been no early reports of damage.

Recent large quakes in NZ

• July 2017: North-west of Auckland Island, Magnitude 6.6, depth 10km
• November 2016: Kaikoura, Magnitude 7.8, depth 15km (two deaths)
• September 2016: East Cape, Magnitude 7.1, depth 55km
• February 2016: Christchurch, Magnitude 5.7, depth 15km
• April 2015: St Arnaud, Magnitude 6.2, depth 52km