Three earthquakes hit the South Island today, the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences says.

The first, measuring 3.4 on the Richter Scale, struck at 1.37am 10km west of Takaka, Golden Bay. It was centred 12km deep and was likely to be felt by Takaka residents, the institute said on its website.

A second quake, measur ing 3.2 on the Richter Scale, occurred in the same location at 7.53am and was 12km deep.

The third quake struck at 12.40pm 60km southwest of Arthur's Pass, in the Southern Alps, and measured 4.5 on the Richter Scale. It was centred 7km deep and was likely to have been felt throughout the central South Island, from Arthur's Pass to Aoraki-Mount Cook, the institute said.