New Zealand earthquake

New Zealand's north island hit by quake

The quake, first reported as 6.3 magnitude but later downgraded to 5.6, was centred about 200 kilometres northeast of the capital Wellington, according to the US Geological Survey. It was at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning.

New Zealand was last week hit with a powerful magnitude 7.8 quake near the coastal South Island town of Kaikoura that killed two people.

Wellington CBD building in danger of collapse

 The area around Tory Street, between Courtenay Place and Wakefield Street, has been cordoned off.

There were no cars or people in the parking building, as it was being earthquake-strengthened after earlier damage as a result of an earthquake in 2013.

Speaking to Checkpoint with John Campbell, Mayor Justin Lester said the building was badly damaged in the 2013 quake, and engineers said today it should be closed.

He said it was likely beyond repair and would need to be taken apart and come down.

Mr Lester said scores of people had been told to evacuate.

Quake prompts new calls to move some govt services out of Wellington

A draft policy recently adopted by Local Government New Zealand would be advanced with more urgency, the organisation's president said.

Lawrence Yule said it was a political priority for the organisation, and it was time to re-think New Zealand's hazard risk management.

"It can be soundly argued that how we distribute centres, people and key infrastructure - including government infrastructure, needs to be reconsidered," he said.

Nelson city councillor Matt Lawrey drafted the policy.

Warships to help evacuate NZ quake town

Two people were killed when two simultaneous quakes hit near Christchurch on Monday morning, followed by thousands of aftershocks.

Thousands were cut off in Kaikoura after roads and infrastructure were badly damaged.

Many were tourists visiting the popular whale-watching destination.

The country has been hit by at least 1,823 earthquakes since the magnitude 7.5 earthquake on Monday, according to GeoNet, New Zealand's government-funded earthquake monitoring service.

Quake sent rocks thundering down near Clarence River rafters

Deidre Lusby's holiday changed suddenly at 12.02am on Monday morning as she camped with 13 others.

"We had camped beside the river and were woken by tremendous noise, shuddering - the earthquake," she told Morning Report.

The group's guides decided move them along the river bed slightly and they bedded down on a tarpaulin in the open. But there wasn't much sleep to be had.

"Each aftershock set off another thunderous amount of rocks coming down into the river on the other side from where we were."

Key in Kaikoura - 'The whole mountain has moved'

More than 400 people were airlifted out of cut-off the South Island town yesterday, after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Hanmer Springs killed two people and caused widespread damage.

By 2am today, more than 1400 aftershocks had been recorded.

The HMNZS Canterbury is off the coast of Kaikoura, along with survey ship Wellington which has found the sea floor in South Bay has risen by half a metre.

The Navy plans to use two landing craft that can each take 50 people. Up to 200 could be on board by this afternoon.

New Zealand earthquake: Heavy rain hampers evacuation

Dozens of helicopters are being drafted in to move residents and tourists from the seaside town of Kaikoura.

It is a whale-watching resort that was hit hard and cut off by the quake.

Hundreds of aftershocks have rocked the area, with major road and rail links still severed.

Two people were killed in the 7.5 magnitude earthquake and billions of dollars of damage was caused.

It is estimated that up to 1,200 tourists are among those stranded by the quake which has been blamed for causing "utter devastation" on the north-eastern coast of the South Island.

All Blacks great McCaw helping with quake rescue efforts

The legendary McCaw became a commercial helicopter pilot after ending his illustrious rugby career following the All Blacks' World Cup triumph last year.

McCaw has been ferrying rescue teams Kaikoura, close to the epicentre of a quake which struck early on Tuesday morning, where people have been stranded due to landslides.

He told the New Zealand Herald: "We took the Fire Service just north and south of Kaikoura to check out all the slips and make sure everyone was accounted for."