A magnitude 4.5 earthquake was recorded north of Wellington on Tuesday night.
The quake, which occurred at 10.07pm, was widely felt in the North Island and upper South Island.
It was located 20km north-west of Wellington at a depth of 40km.
Radio New Zealand staff reported many people in central apartments and buildings getting out of their buildings following the tremor, and milling about in the streets for some time, unsure if it was safe to return.
Radio New Zealand staff in Christchurch say the quake was not felt there.
There have been no reports of damage.