Earthquake rocks central New Zealand

A SHARP earthquake rocked the lower North Island of New Zealand yesterday.

An initial report from GeoNet said the magnitude 5.1 quake struck 20km south west of Ohakune at 3.46pm.

GeoNet said the quake struck at a depth of 76km. It was a "subduction zone event" so was felt quite far afield, the organisation said.

People from Auckland to Waverley reporting feeling the quake.

Most people reported feeling it as a light to moderate shake, with only Wellington reports as moderate to strong shaking.

So far, more than 4600 people reported to GeoNet that they felt the quake.

Hawke's Bay resident Ian Shears said the quake felt like a bulldozer nearby.

"Hell of a jolt in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay. Was sitting at home on computer and house started shaking, at first I thought it was bulldozer on building site next door, but when workers started running out of site building, I got under table quickly."

New Plymouth resident Jim Irving said he felt the quake while watching the Junior World Rugby Cup.

"Wow, I am sitting here watching the Junior World Rugby Cup and first thought that giant Skelton( 19yrs old, 150kg, 2.05m) from Samoa had fallen down then realised it was quiet a severe quake."

Motorists in the Hutt Valley and Wainuiomata described being on the road, as the quake was happening.

"The whole car started rocking, rolling for five, six seconds."

"Now the car's shaking.

"I felt like someone was pushing the side of the car and rocking it," a motorist told Newstalk ZB.

People from Blenheim to Wairarapa described the scary jolt, in multi-storey buildings.

No damage has yet been reported to the fire service, a central fire communications spokeswoman said.