Swarm of massive earthquakes hits off NZ coast

Areas of the North Island have been told to evacuate immediately

Swarm of massive earthquakes hits off NZ coast

The North Island is bracing for possible tsunamis, with some areas told to move to high ground immediately.

A strong 8.1 magnitude earthquake has been reported in the sea off New Zealand, around 100km east of Te Araroa, with residents bracing for possible tidal waves.

Residents in all areas from the Bay of Islands to Whangārei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay and the Great Barrier Island have been told to evacuate to high ground “immediately”.

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Following a 7.2 quake in the area, a 7.4 quake hit near the Kermadec Islands at 6.41 am local time, and then at 8:30 a severe 8.1 magnitude quake hit the same islands. The quake is substantial enough to have triggered a tsunami warning for the Hawaiian Islands.

An 8.1 magnitude quake is a rare and “very notable event” professor Tim Stern told the NZ Herald. "The first ones were 7.3 and 7.4, and I thought, well, they're okay. The 7.3 was 90km deep and that doesn't generally produce tsunamis," Stern said to the paper. "But the magnitude eight event is something different again, with a big difference in energy.”

Residents in affected areas are reporting early signs of tidal waves as the sea recedes.

GNS says there is a danger to swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats, and anyone in or near the water in these areas.

The insurance industry is preparing for what might be coming. 

"Everyone is focused on following the guidelines right now and making sure everyone is safe in the affected areas,” a BrokerWeb Risk Services spokesperson told Insurance Business.

“Nothing has hit yet, and we’re going to hope it stays that way - but time will tell. There haven’t been any earthquake damage assessments yet."

Major NZ earthquakes since 1931


Hawke’s Bay      

magnitude 7.8

256 deaths



magnitude 7.2, 6.8

Wellington damaged, 10,000 chimneys topple



magnitude 7.1

South Island roads blocked, 50 bridge collapses



magnitude 6.3

Major industrial damage, dozens injured



magnitude 7.1, 6.3

Multiple buildings, 185 deaths



magnitude 7.8  

Significant damage in Canterbury and Marlborough, 2 deaths


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