Part of central Tauranga remains shut down due to a major gas leak.
Firefighters are at The Strand after reports of a gas main rupture, just after midday.
The area of The Strand from Devonport Rd to Wharf St has been cordoned off and people have been evacuated from buildings in the immediate area.
Josh Henderson, who works at Macau, said he was told by his boss that it was a gas leak and was asked to evacuate.
He said he saw people from four or five surrounding businesses leaving at the same time.
A reporter at the scene said "you can see what looks like gas pouring out of the ground" near the entrance to Masonic Park.
Contractors in high-vis could also be seen digging up the sidewalk near to where the gas was coming out.
Senior station officer Neil Brown said seismic drilling had hit either a gas main or feeder.
Working with the police, firefighters had evacuated the immediate area and businesses, as well as the waterfront. Trains moving through the area had been stopped.
Brown said they were working with a favourable wind but expected this area of the CBD to remain cordoned off for at least another one or two hours.
A Bay of Plenty Times reporter at the scene said cars are crawling along Devonport Rd in both directions, are being turned around at the roundabout at the beginning of The Strand, and are having to head back on Devonport Rd.
"One commuter just vented his frustration at the police officer at the cordon, saying the cars should be turned back earlier, at the traffic lights on Devonport Rd," he said.
The Strand is home to many of the city's restaurants and bars.
A man who works nearby and was evacuated said he could smell the gas in the office.
A fireman came in and told them to evacuate, he said.