Whānau living in Te Tairāwhiti are being urged to get to higher ground after a severe 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck just after 4:30am.
Civil Defence officials have also issued a tsunami warning.
Those living close to the sea are being asked to listen to the radio and to follow updates via Civil Defence.
Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management has stated that there have been records of 30cm surges on the gauge at East Cape. They say while they may seem small, the first waves aren't always the biggest. They are advising people to move to higher ground or to head inland.
Bay of Plenty Civil Defence says 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
- Sharing this information with family, neighbours and friends
- Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
- Follow instructions of local civil defence authorities
The strong quake was felt right across the country, including Auckland, Taranaki, Kāpiti and Wellington and Whangarei.
Information recorded on the Geonet website shows there have been a series of aftershocks occurring just minutes apart. Aftershocks are expected to continue.