3 Dec 2011

Quake in Cook Strait shakes North and South Islands

10:11 pm on 3 December 2011

A strong earthquake has struck in the Cook Strait and was widely felt at the top of the South Island and the bottom of the North Island on Saturday.

The quake struck at 7.19pm and had a magnitude of 5.7. It was centred 30km east of Picton, at a depth 60km.

The two towns closest to the earthquake's epicentre, Blenheim and Picton, have escaped unscathed.

Wellington police and the fire service say there has been no serious damage.

Wellington's Meridian Energy Building on the waterfront had about a dozen louvres broken from its windows.

A Thorndon fire station officer Glenn Hudson says they cordoned the area off and made it safe.

A resident in the Wellington suburb of Te Aro, Morris Power, says the tremor was enough to rattle his eighth-floor apartment.

He says books came flying out of a bookcase and in the kitchen condiments came off the shelves.

But Mr Power says apart from some cracks in the plaster ceiling, there doesn't appear to be any damage.

Tony Hurst from GNS Science says the quake will have been widely felt because it was relatively high magnitude and occurred deep in the earth's crust.

He says it was felt quite strongly right out to Golden Bay and even to south Taranaki.

Dr Hurst says most of the places feeling it strongly were from Nelson over to Wairarapa.

GeoNet reports that the quake was felt strongly in the Marlborough and Wellington areas.

Transpower says its Cook Strait cable has not been damaged by the quake.

Its epicentre was near Fighting Bay, the place where the Cook Strait cable begins.

The cable carries electricity from the Benmore Dam to the North Island.