More than 1.2 million people were expected to dive under their desks this morning, as the country prepared for what to do in an earthquake.

Almost 2000 schools and nearly as many businesses signed up for the Government-organised ``shakeout'' event which advised people what to do if a quake struck.

The message was to drop to your knees, cover your head and neck, crawl under a sturdy table, and hold onto it during the tremor.

The first shakeout was at 9.26am today.


Several schools and businesses across Rotorua took park including the children at Malfroy Primary School.

Library manager Shirley Lane said 5-year-olds who were in the library at the time of the drill took park by jumping under the tables.

Civil Defence Emergency Management director John Hamilton said he wanted the shakeout to be more than just a one-off, 10 second drill.

``Immediately after the drill is a good time for people to stop and talk about the drill, what they did, what might happen in a real earthquake, talk about their preparedness and also consider other emergencies,'' he said.

As of Monday, Wellington had the most people per-capita signed up for the event, with 33.8 per cent of the region's population signed up.

Auckland followed with 28.3 per cent.