Another large earthquake has struck near Levin and was widely felt around the central North Island.

It was a 5.2 magnitude and came just a day after yesterday's big shake in the same area.

Geonet said the offshore quake hit at 12.34pm and was 32km deep and centred 20km northwest of Levin.

It was "aftershock number 143" from yesterday's magnitude 5.8 rattler.

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Geonet says today's quake was aftershock number 143 from yesterday's magnitude 5.8.
Geonet says today's quake was aftershock number 143 from yesterday's magnitude 5.8.

Nearly 20,000 people have reported to Geonet that they felt the quake, some as far away as Auckland and Invercargill. The majority described it as light or weak.

But more than 500 people, mostly between Taranaki and Wellington, reported it was a "strong" quake.

The earthquake was felt in Wellington and shook the Beehive just after 12:30pm.

It lasted for a long while, as long if not longer than yesterday's quake.

The initial jolt felt in central Wellington was slightly less severe than yesterday morning's magnitude 5.8 quake, but a moderate, swirling-like feeling continued for a substantial amount of time.

Rangitikei District Council Mayor Andy Watson said he was sitting at his desk working in the council chambers when the earthquake hit and it felt like quite a strong shake.

After yesterday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake he has not had any reports come to his attention of any damage in the Rangitikei district.

GNS Science seismologist John Ristau said yesterday's quake at 37km was quite deep, which mitigated many of the damaging effects.

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Today's quake was 33km deep, according to Geonet. Being offshore would also help reduce damage.

Being offshore the area where both quakes originated was not well-studied by scientists, Ristau said.

"It possibly occurred where the Pacific plate is subducting - being pushed under - the Australian plate, which is what happens in the North Island. But we are not exactly sure."

The Kāpiti Coast was quite an active area so it was not a surprise the quake had happened there, he said.

Some in Wellington reported noticeable shaking that continued for about 20 seconds.

Two minutes after it hit, just over 6000 people had reported feeling it.

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Metlink said Wellington trains will be running at reduced speeds.