Rotorua residents felt the earth shake early this morning when a 7.5 magnitude deadly earth quake hit the South Island near Hanmer Springs.

One local commented on our Facebook page saying "it woke me. I thought I had an intruder, then I was swaying".

Another commented, "giant one. Whole house swaying. Dogs going mental. Someone says might be big one in Wellington? Friends in Hamilton and Raglan reporting big shake".

Others commented saying they hoped everyone was safe.


One said, "yep, felt it here in Rotorua. Woke up and thought I was going to be sick . . . Was a rocking motion mixed with shaking. Kept changing directions. Was pretty cool".

The beach and marine threat, which was issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence earlier this morning, has been lifted for Bay of Plenty.

Group Controller Clinton Naude said people in coastal areas should continue to exercise caution.

"The seas will remain unsettled for sometime yet so at this stage we are still recommending people stay out of the water and off the beaches," Mr Naude said.

Police continue to work with other emergency services and support communities in response to the earthquake which occurred just after midnight.

There have been two deaths reported.

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Police urge everyone in the affected areas to continue to listening to advice from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, as well as local Civil Defence services.

The Rotorua Fire Brigade said they had received no calls in relation to the earthquake and the Bay of Plenty District Commander Centre said police in the area had not received any calls either.

Rotorua resident Jasmine Adams said the quake left her shaking.

"We could hear alarms going off outside too. [I'm] just worried as I have close family that live in Kaikoura and I can't contact them," she said.

She said her husband and her were about to go to bed when they felt the earthquake start.

"The house was swaying, it felt like walking on a boat. In our lounge the lights were swinging slowly, the doors were moving and we could hear the house creaking. I hit record on the camera and you can see the lights swinging more and more.

"My husband and I both get the Geonet alerts so stayed up until 3am watching the country and felt at least one to two more here in Rotorua that swayed the lights a bit.

"I realised how big it was when I put Facebook live on and had comments from people all over the country who had been woken up by quakes."

A Taupo truck driver has described struggling to control the truck he was driving as the earthquake hit - and the "eerie" feeling in Wellington.

Mark Fletcher is at Wellington's wharf area and said there was "definitely an eerie feeling".

He was driving along the Himatangi Straight near Foxton when it "started like a wave".

"I couldn't control the truck, it was all over both lanes."

He said the road was like "waves".

Mr Fletcher said the wharf area at Wellington had been hit hard.

"It's that badly damaged we won't get on [the ferry's] for at least two or three days."

Some areas had dropped several feet and rail tracks were "bent like bananas".

"The rail lines have popped out and bent and twisted. There is a lot of damage to the buildings."

Mr Fletcher said there was smashed glass everywhere from buildings in the central business district.

While he felt safe, he said after shocks were continuing.

Mr Fletcher said they were currently beside a main road which normally had hundreds of cards zooming past - but instead there were just occasional cars passing.

Former Rotorua man Zak Raphael, who lives in Wellington, said this morning he was woken by the initial earthquake when knick knacks on his window sill fell on his head.

A book shelf was destroyed and the mirror fell off his dresser but didn't break.

"I was asleep and I have letters that spell my name above where I sleep and they fell on my head and I heard my flatmate scream."

He and his flatmates then went outside with their two dogs and were then evacuated to a nearby hill.

"We saw a flash in the sky and thought it must have been a transformer as the power went out.

"Then there were the aftershocks, they weren't too bad. I was quite scared when it first happened, it was quite abrupt. I didn't get much sleep last night," he said.

Mr Raphael is back in his home now but there is no power. He said he couldn't go to work as all residents are being warned to stay out of the CBD.

People in coastal areas should:
- Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
- Stay off beaches and shore areas
- Do not go sightseeing
- Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
- Further updates will be provided on Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management's Facebook page and website .