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Taranaki quake woke people around the country

A strong earthquake in the heart of Taranaki just before midnight resulted in severe shaking all the way to Gisborne and the East Cape.

The 5.8 magnitude tremor was centred 25km east of Stratford at a depth of 187km.

It happened at 11.49pm. More than 38,000 people reported feeling the shake to the Geonet website, with many reports from Gisborne ranging from “moderate” to “extreme” shaking.

“These deep earthquakes are typically widely felt, due to the subducting tectonic plate under the North Island,” a GeoNet statement said.

“Most of the quake's energy travels up and along the plate to the surface closer to the East Coast.”

The long and powerful earthquake jolted the lower and central North Island and was felt as far away as Christchurch.

Geonet upgraded the quake to 5.8 after initially classifying it as a 5.0.

The quake was rated as “severe” on Geonet's “felt reports” feature by several people in Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Wellington, as well as near its Taranaki epicentre. Geonet classified the shaking from the quake as “light”.

Within 10 minutes more than 33,000 people around New Zealand had reported feeling it. That had risen to more than 38,000 by 12.20am today.

Some people on social media described it as two separate quakes, while others described it as a very long shake.

Lynne Keys said the quake was “very very scary . . . my ceilings all creaked”.

Then the whole house “actually wobbled”.

“Scariest one I've ever felt! Not sure if it was good or bad getting the warning in my phone first.”

Commenters on Geonet's Facebook page variously described the quake as a “jolt”, “long light shaking”, and a “long wobbly one”.

Many were woken by the shaking but others heard it before they felt it, with one thinking it was a truck.

“I heard it for about 5 seconds before the shaking started, so I knew it was going to be relatively big. The house lurched about quite a bit,” another person said.

Across the country, Kiwis reported that they had received an Android Earthquake Alerts System notification on their phone a few seconds before shaking started.

Google has chosen New Zealand and Greece to trial its new system, which uses mobile phones to detect seismic waves, then centralises and assesses the information and warns users according to their location.

It's the second earthquake to strike Stratford in the past two days. A 3.8 magnitude quake hit 40km from the town about 9pm on Tuesday.

In Whanganui, the quake was “like a huge truck in the neighbourhood” and woke Jacob McSweeny just from the sound alone.

“Then the house shook for a good 20 to 30 seconds. Nothing broke or fell — just a good shake-up.”

Katrina Derham in Hawke's Bay wrote that it was “crazy that it was centred in Stratford but felt so strongly here”.

Some Twitter users in the capital city were reporting that it was powerful enough that things fell over in their home.

Kat Zolita Mason in Wellington wrote that it was such a long shake that it “felt there were two”: “I went into the hall and watched the paintings shake.”