This morning's earthquake was a timely reminder Rotorua residents need to be taking natural disaster threats seriously, a local civil defence controller says.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit at 4.37am and was felt from Northland to Wellington.

It was around 100km northeast of the East Cape settlement of Te Araroa, at a depth of 55km.

The jolt lasted for almost a minute and was folliowed by several moderate-sized aftershocks, including a M5.6 jolt at 5.01am, and a M4.6 quake at 5.03am.


Rotorua Lakes Council principal civil defence emergency management local controller, Stavros Michael said the earthquake was a "timely reminder" for locals.

"A disaster like an earthquake can happen at any time and anywhere. We can't assume that it would mean you would be with your family when a disaster hits.

It's important you set up an emergency plan for your family, so you know what to do in an emergency and how and where you and your family members can meet safely during or after a disaster.

"It's also essential that you have a survival kit ready, and make sure you have a first aid kit and enough water and food to last up to three days or more."

Mr Michael said it was also useful civil defence emergency management hubs, including Rotorua's, were tested as part of the national exercise, Operation Tangaroa, earlier this week.

"The exercise, which simulated a similar disaster to this morning's emergency, gave us the opportunity to refresh our response skills and test our capabilities as well as how we can better prepare ourselves to respond to an emergency."

He encouraged people to subscribe to the Bay of Plenty emergency management alerts via its website, which provides rolling updates in a regional emergency and also key information to help people to prepare themselves."

GNS Science Wairakei Research Centre volcanologist Brad Scott said natural events like today were a reminder to locals of the environment they lived in.

He said with an earthquake this large, there was likely to be hundreds of aftershocks in the coming days.

"The largest aftershock is usually one magnitude less than the original earthquake so the biggest aftershocks will be somewhere in the sixes.

"It is those bigger aftershocks people in Rotorua may feel, but the hundreds of aftershocks in the fours [magnitude] over the coming days are not likely to be felt in Rotorua."

The house was making these horrible noises and I thought 'oh my God, the house is going to snap in half'


One Rotorua resident, Sarah McIntosh, said the earthquake was a wake up call and highlighted how unprepared her family was in the event of a natural disaster.

"We don't really have a survival kit - we have a few bottles of water and tinned food but not enough to last us three days. It's quite bad because I'm a nurse so they drill into us that we need to be prepared because we don't know what's going to happen.

"It's been quite bad for earthquakes around the country in the last few weeks and you do worry that a Christchurch earthquake will happen here so this is definitely a wake up call for us to get organised and be prepared."

Born and bred in Rotorua, Ms McIntosh said she couldn't remember such a big earthquake rattling the city.

"There was actually a bit of a shake before the rolling started and that's what woke me up. The house was making these horrible noises and I thought 'oh my God, the house is going to snap in half'. I jumped up and checked on my daughter but she and my partner slept right through it - I was standing in her doorway, freaking out."

Local woman Jasmine Adams said it was the biggest earthquake she had ever felt in Rotorua.

"Our bed is so sturdy so we don't usually feel the earthquakes at night but I woke up and our swinging lights above us were swaying. I hit my husband and said 'it's an earthquake!' so he jumped out of bed and ran into the lounge. All our lights were swaying."

Footage supplied by Jasmine Adams.

Mrs Adams said she found it quite alarming.

"I was quite scared. There were a few aftershocks as well so it took about two hours to get back to sleep.

"My sister called me immediately. I logged onto Facebook and realised it had pretty much woken everyone. There were so many status. We watched it get worse and worse on Geonet."

Holden's Bay resident Julie Gedye said it was her pet magpie "tearing about" that woke her up.

"He was banging into things and squawking his head off - I thought someone had broken into the house because the door starting moving. Then I felt the swaying.

"The last big earthquake I felt here was a couple of years ago but that was just a big jolt which didn't last long - this one lasted long - it was very weird."

Locals were quick to share their thoughts on social media.

Facebook comments:

- Felt like I was on a boat, BIG swaying. hope all is well for those closer

- I woke to a banging door and moving house. It was enough to get me up and out of bed

- My bed was like a boat at sea and my house groaned and creaked it went on for a long time was the longest earthquake I have felt.

- I seriously thought there was someone in my house my floors were creaking... That's what woke me up! Scary much!

- Yep... Made me feel motion sickness lol... thought someone was in the house at first with everything creaking

- At first i thought someone was kicking my bed tryna wake me up, but then I clicked. hahaha. It felt pretty awesome

- Yuppppp I thought it was a ghost moving my bed an curtains hahahaha

- First time in years I've been woken by an earthquake!

- Swaying lasted a while - got me out of bed. Local dogs weren't amused by the earth moving underneath them!

What you need in your emergency survival kit:
- Water [three litres per person a day for up to three day]
- Canned, non-perishable food
- Torch and radio with batteries
- Toilet paper, plastic bags and a bucket
- First aid kit that includes essential medicines such as paracetamol
- Something to cook on like a bbq
- Face and dust masks