Chile earthquake: Small waves reach NZ

  • 18/09/2015
(3 News)
(3 News)

The tsunami warning for New Zealand has been cancelled but there'll be unusual water conditions for another day or so.

The warning was issued at midday on Thursday after a magnitude 8.3-quake off the coast of Chile.

Waves of up to 50cm arrived at the Chatham Islands from 11.50pm on Thursday and sea-level fluctuations of up to 30cm above normal were recorded in eastern coastal parts of the country.

"The threat to New Zealand's east coast and Chatham Islands has largely passed," said Sarah Stuart-Black, the director at the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management.

She says there may be some unusual water conditions for the next 24 to 36 hours and people going out in small boats should be cautious and use discretion.

People were warned to stay out of the water, off beaches and shore areas, and not go sightseeing when the warning was in place.

Whitebaiters at some Canterbury rivers ignored this but generally the call was heeded.

"The response from the public to this warning has been fantastic. In most cases we've seen people heeding our advice and being responsible," Mrs Stuart-Black said.

"In the past few years we have experienced several of these distant source tsunami that have been generated from earthquakes from across the Pacific. People should be getting a better understanding of what happens, and what to do," she said.

Dive! Tutukaka co-owner Kate Malcolm says the surge overnight was pretty solid.

"You could hear it coming and you knew," she told NZ Newswire.

"It looks like being in the middle of a really fast running river. The water is disgusting, it's dark brown and yucky."

The dive company is in a marina northeast Whangarei that often gets bigger surges than other parts of New Zealand but it's taking eight European tourists out on Friday, while continuing to monitor the situation for the next two days.

At least 10 people were killed in Chile and a million people evacuated.