The promotional 'Hobbit' eagle was shaken down in Wellington Airport. Photo Twitter (@RKPriestley)
A "severe'' magnitude 6.2 quake has damaged homes and closed
roads in the lower North Island, toppling walls and chimneys
and sending rockfalls across roads.
The quake struck 10km north of Castlepoint in Wairarapa, at a
depth of 33km, at 3.52pm, GeoNet said.
Sara Page, GeoNet public information specialist at GNS
Science, said GeoNet had received more than 6000 "felt"
reports from the public by 4.30pm, with some reporting
"As expected after a quake of this size, there have been
multiple aftershocks, and these will continue for some time
as the region settles," she said.
The Wairarapa is no stranger to large earthquakes, with two
very damaging magnitude 7 quakes in 1942.
However, the region's last earthquake above magnitude 6 was
There have been no reports of injuries but emergency services
have reported damage to roads and buildings in the lower
Most of the damage was reported in the Wairarapa and
Palmerston North areas.
Fire Service central communications shift manager Mike Wanoa
said there were no reports of major damage so far, but
firefighters were "extremely busy''.
"The earthquake has been reasonably major in the
Masterton-Eketahuna area, so we're getting multiple calls to
all sorts of things at the moment, but we're right in the
middle of it now.''
There were reports of fires, alarm activations and lines
down. A lot of the damage was in the Wairarapa and Palmerston
North areas, Mr Wanoa said.
Inspector Mike Coleman of police central communications said
there were reports of damage to houses in Eketahuna,
including broken windows, collapsed walls and fallen
The number of reports of damage remained unknown.
"Obviously some houses have been damaged,'' Mr Coleman said.
"Windows have been smashed and crockery has been thrown
around the place - the usual sort of movement with
Mr Coleman said there were rocks and debris on roads between
Woodville and Taihape due to various slips.
The Manawatu Gorge road was down to one lane, while the road
between Pahiatua and Palmerston North was closed.
Bridges and roads around Eketahuna were being checked, Mr
Motorists in the lower North Island were urged to take care.
A Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman said: "Wellington Free
Ambulance has had no callouts as a result of the earthquake.
However, we have gone into emergency management mode just to
Tranz Metro said all train services in the region had been
suspended due to the quake.
The New Zealand Transport Agency said teams were busy
checking the road network for damage but everything seemed to
Power is out in Linton, south of Palmerston North.
A spokeswoman for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) said the
agency was still gathering information on the quake and the
volume of calls received.
One of the two giant eagles hanging from the roof of
Wellington airport to promote the Hobbit trilogy did fall
down as a result of the shaking.
The Weta Workshop eagles each weigh 2 tonnes, have a wingspan
of 15m, and were suspended from the roof by eight cables.
Greg Thomas from Wellington Airport said one of the eagles
slowly became detached during the quake and had come to rest
on the floor.
He said it was still partly suspended, and no one was injured
when it came down.
The quake had not caused any other damage at the airport. A
runway inspection had been carried out and the airport had
been cleared to continue operating.
No flights had been disrupted, he said.
'This one came with a bang'
Karen Monk, who is on a farm in Mauriceville, just north of
Masterton, said the quake was "really violent''.
"My baby daughter was in her cot asleep and I managed to leap
across the hall and grab her and leap outside onto the
lawn,'' she said.
They had stayed outside for about half an hour while
aftershocks rolled through.
Ms Monk said the quake was sudden and violent, compared to
the usual rolling shakes.
"It was certainly the biggest we've had since we've been
"It was really sudden. Usually the earthquakes we feel up
here, whether they're from north or south, they're more
rolling and you start start with a gentle shake.
"This one just came with a bang, with massive jolting.''
She said the contents of the pantry had spilled onto the
floor, shelves tipped over. Almost every room in the wooden
villa had cracks in the walls.
"We're on a farm here and the animals don't normally react to
quakes but the horses were running around for a good 10
minutes afterwards. The sheep are all huddled together.
That's really unusual.''
An office worker in Masterton described the tremor as "a good
quake - one of the best''.
"It was a roll rather than a jolt. It was not very long but
it was long enough - it lasted about 20 seconds.''
Pam Lochore, wife of All Black great Sir Brian Lochore, said
photographs had fallen off shelves in the couple's Masterton
The shaking also caused water in the pool to "rock side to
side'' and a "rugby ball went flying across the room''.
Raumati South resident Leigh Nichols was at her beachside
bach when the quake hit.
"It was huge. The noise - it was like a train going along the
track. It was so noisy, everything was just rattling.''
Mrs Nichols said a wine glass smashed and DVDs spilled to the
floor. Her husband David clutched a wooden statue to prevent
it tumbling over.
"It was the noise that got me, not the shaking. I just stood
here. I don't get frightened, I'm fascinated.''
Asked how the quake compared to the big Seddon shakes in July
last year, she said: "I think it was just as bad, at least.''
Mrs Nichols was about to head to her Raumati interior design
store, Furnishing Affair, to check merchandise for damage.
"If it's only things, it's only things. But gosh it was
In North Wairarapa crockery broke, fridge doors were flung
open spilling food onto kitchen floors and disheartened
homeowners described the aftermath as "a bloody mess''.
In Masterton initial reports showed there was little damage
in shops although some crockery had been broken.
Anders Crofoot, owner of Castlepoint Station on the east
coast of Wairarapa, said it was "the best shake we've had in
"Stuff off the shelves, stuff off walls, but nothing that
we've come across that's too major,'' he said.
He said the shaking went on for about 40 seconds.
"I was up in the office and it was long enough to think about
it and then get downstairs and outside and it was still
He would now be checking the farm water supply for damage.
"There's a high probability with some of these old pipes that
there'll be a problem.''
Electricity retailer Powershop, which has its headquarters in
Masterton, tweeted that it had evacuated its call centre
following the earthquake.
The company said it would continue responding to email
queries as best it could.
A DB Breweries spokeswoman said they had checked with staff
at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka and there appeared to be
no damage as a result of the quake.
A Fonterra spokeswoman said they were still checking into
whether any damage had been caused at the company's Paihiatua