Swarm of earthquakes rattle NZ's central Nth Island

WELLINGTON and the upper South Island were hit by another "severe'' earthquake this morning.

According to GeoNet, the magnitude 5.8 quake occurred at 7.17am and was centred 30km east of Seddon at a depth of 19km.

It was one of a swarm of earthquakes to rattle central New Zealand this morning.

There was a strong magnitude 4.5 aftershock 25km east of Seddon at 9.28am. It was just 11km deep.

Affected residents immediately took to Twitter to discuss the most recent tremor.

Oaariki posted: "Sheesh! That's the second time you woke me up today''.

Rochelle Iti wrote: "Excuse me while I move to Australia before #Wellington becomes the new Christchurch''.

Another strong aftershock hit at 10.55am. The magnitude 4.9 shake was centred 30km east of Seddon at a depth of 22km, GeoNet said.

There were 149 reports to GeoNet of people feeling the aftershock as of 10.30am.

GNS Science seismologist Anna Kaiser said the main earthquake was similar in size and intensity to Friday's shake and was widely felt.

It was being treated as its own event and not an aftershock from the earlier quake.

She said there would still be aftershocks from Friday's earthquake as well as aftershocks from the latest shake.

"The aftershock activity following this earthquake has been somewhat greater than what we had on Friday.

"Both of those will have their own aftershocks and it's difficult to separate them.''

There were earthquakes of this magnitude fairly regularly in the region.

"Normally when we get this sort of thing the aftershocks will taper off with time,'' Dr Kaiser said.

"But when we get one of these events there will be increased seismicity in the region and there's always the possibility of a larger event but it's unlikely.''

She added that people should be prepared for a large earthquake striking at anytime.

Another "strong'' earthquake struck 25km east of Seddon at 7.20am at a depth of 13km, GeoNet said.

Newstalk ZB reporter Felix Marwick says it woke him up, but did not damage anything at his place.

"It just rattled things, made them jump around the shelves.

"I've got everything earthquake-fixed. If they weren't, I suspect things might have moved a hell of a lot further than they did."

Emergency services had not had any calls relating to the earthquake this morning.

The quake rattled the Ambulance Central Communications Centre in Wellington, prompting staff to dive under their desks.

"It felt like it lasted quite a long time and it shock quite a lot of our desks,'' said regional team leader Nilsa Surgey.

"It was quite unpleasant.''

Twitter was full of comment about the quake this morning.

"Oh damn that was scary. Crouched in the doorway still shaking,'' said Laura Vincent.

Heather McDonald said there was "a lot of rocking and rolling in that one''.

Alastair Thompson: "Its a good thing that we are getting a bunch of severe not too big quakes rather than an actual big one - touch wood.''

Tobias Brockie: "my parents, who live in chch, have both texted me with concern at first and then scornful dismissal in the wake of that quake.''

APNZ Wellington reporter Matthew Backhouse said the whole house shook for about 15 seconds.

"It was pretty scary.'

A KiwiRail spokeswoman said all Wellington trains had been suspended this morning while the fitness of the tracks was assessed.

It was not known when they would reopen.

There have been at least 14 other smaller earthquakes in the same region this morning, and also slight to moderate shakes near Hunterville, Porangahau, Taihape and Te Kaha.

The capital was shaken by a magnitude 5.7 quake on Friday.

- additional reporting Newstalk ZB

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