Residents in the Northland settlement of Ahipara have reported flooding this evening despite authorities lifting warnings about sea surges and unpredictable currents.
“The community is quite anxious as it is still a couple of hours until high tide,” said Far North District councillor Felicity Foy.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) are also in attendance, a spokesperson confirmed.
“We currently have one crew in attendance in Ahipara after reports of big swells and flooding over the road,” they said.
About 9.45 this evening, the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) lifted its earlier warning to stay away from beaches and out of the water along much of New Zealand’s coasts.
“Nema advises that some strong and unusual currents may continue overnight and urges caution in affected beach and marine areas,” they said tonight.
In their earlier update at 7.30pm, Nema warned that “strong and unusual currents” were possible, as were “unpredictable surges at the shore” after an earthquake struck north of the country.
Nema said the first tsunami activity might reach New Zealand’s shores by 5pm in the areas around North Cape.
The 7.7 magnitude quake struck southeast of the Loyalty Islands just before 3pm.
“Strong currents and surges can injure and drown people. There is a danger to swimmers, surfers, people fishing, and anyone in or near the water close to shore,” Nema warned.
“People in or near the sea in the following areas should move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, marinas, rivers and estuaries.”
Areas under threat included the west coast of the North Island from Cape Reinga to Whanganui including the west coast of Auckland, Manukau Harbour and New Plymouth.
The east coast of the North Island was considered under threat from Cape Reinga to Tolaga Bay, including Whangārei, Great Barrier, the east coast of Auckland, Waiheke Island, Waitematā Harbour, Tauranga, Whakatāne and Opōtiki.
The West Coast of the South Island was considered under threat from Farewell Spit to Milford Sound including Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika.
“People on boats, liveaboards and at marinas should leave their boats/vessels and move on to shore. Do not return to boats unless instructed by officials,” Nema said.
“There is no need to evacuate other areas unless directly advised by local Civil Defence authorities. Coastal inundation (flooding of land areas near the shore) is not expected as a result of this event.”
Nema advised people:
- Move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, marinas, rivers and estuaries.
- Do not go to the coast to watch the unusual wave activity as there may be dangerous and unpredictable surges.
- Listen to local Civil Defence authorities and follow any instructions.
- Share this information with family, neighbours and friends.
For Vanuatu, locals were warned that waves of 1 to 3 metres above the tide level were possible for some coasts.
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office ordered an “immediate evacuation” of coastal areas to higher ground.
RNZ is reporting a tsunami threat has been issued for Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.
The warnings were issued just after 3pm by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
- The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was 10km deep and struck at 2.57pm.
The quake was followed by a 5.9 aftershock nine minutes later.