Late-night Paraparaumu quake breaks GeoNet record

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake that hit just before midnight on Saturday was "something I've never experienced before", according to one person who felt it.

The shake, felt widely across the lower North Island and top of the South Island, was 64km deep and hit 50km northwest of Paraparaumu. A few hours earlier a magnitude 4.7 quake had struck the same spot

Despite striking when most of us are in bed, more than 26,000 people reported feeling it on GeoNet's website.

" The M5.4 earthquake that occurred at 11:45pm on Saturday, is now a record holder with the most felt reports we have ever received for an earthquake," GeoNet said in a tweet.

"This event was too small to cause a tsunami threat to New Zealand," the agency wrote on its site. "Earthquakes in this region are fairly common with mechanisms likely associated with subduction tectonics."

The previous record-holder was the devastating 7.8 that shook Kaikoura in 2016, which nearly 16,000 reported feeling.

"Holy moly that... was quite different," Karen Robinson told Newshub in an email. "That bit at the end is something I've never experienced before. I'm picking there is going to be a bit of a mess when I get to work."

"Nothing like an earthquake to wake you and then keep you awake as the adrenaline circulates," Paola Brett wrote on Twitter.

"Heard it coming, although it reminded me of my washing machine as it goes into spin cycle!"