Panicked Waihī Beach residents evacuated on Sunday night, believing there was a tsunami warning, after a wave of sirens sounded across the Bay of Plenty.

Civil Defence and Waikato police later confirmed there was no tsunami warning for the area and said the sirens were a false alarm.

UPDATE: Following reports of sirens going off at fire stations across Western Bay of Plenty this evening we touched...

Posted by Bay of Plenty Civil Defence on Sunday, 19 January 2020

Civil Defence was working to get a better understanding on what had happened, the spokesman said.

UPDATE: Following reports of sirens going off at fire stations across Western Bay of Plenty this evening we touched...

Posted by Bay of Plenty Civil Defence on Sunday, 19 January 2020

Civil Defence later sent a text out to those in the area that Fire and Emergency had reported a fault in their siren system.

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Civil Defence quickly issued a text to those in the area, saying that Fire and Emergency New Zealand had reported a fault in their siren system. Photo / Supplied
Civil Defence quickly issued a text to those in the area, saying that Fire and Emergency New Zealand had reported a fault in their siren system. Photo / Supplied

An evacuee told the Herald she and her family were staying at Waihī Beach when an alarm began to ring out.

"A siren started and we were wondering what it was, and then someone on loud speakers said we needed to evacuate as there was a tsunami," she said.

Sirens were also heard in Mount Maunganui, Te Puke and Ōmokoroa.

Waihi Beach was mistakenly evacuated this evening. Photo / George Novak
Waihi Beach was mistakenly evacuated this evening. Photo / George Novak

Waikato police said they were aware sirens were ringing across the east coast of the North Island.

"We have spoken with [Civil Defence] National Emergency Management Agency staff, who believe this is due to a technical fault," a spokesperson said.

Technicians were looking into the problem.

🚨 SIRENS IN COASTAL WAIKATO/WAIHI BEACH 🚨 We are receiving reports of sirens going off along the east coast of the...

Posted by Waikato Police on Sunday, 19 January 2020

Tauranga City Council shared a post on Facebook saying it was aware sirens had been sounding but there was no national warning for a tsunami.

Good evening, we have been notified that Tsunami sirens are being heard from Waihi Beach along the coast to Te Puke....

Posted by Tauranga City Council on Sunday, 19 January 2020

Witnesses said cars filled with panicked people were streaming out of Waihi Beach and local Facebook group pages were flooded with concerned comments.

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That was a bit alarming. Tsunami siren going off here and apparently Waihī Beach as well, but no text warning from Civil Defence. No tsunami (fortunately) but Facey pages getting anxious.

Posted by Linda Thompson on Sunday, 19 January 2020

"We all got new evacuation plans last week," commented one in a thread.

Te Puke Fire Brigade said the siren was confirmed to be a system fault and that Fire and Emergency would be investigating the matter.