Magnitude 4.8 earthquake rocks Bay of Plenty

A series of strong aftershocks are rattling the Bay of Plenty after a magnitude 4.5 earthquake rocked the region early on Monday morning.

The initial quake struck 20km east of Rotorua shortly before 8am at a depth of 4km, according to GeoNet.

A magnitude 4.9 aftershock was reported roughly 15 minutes later at 8:12am, the strength of the tremors visibly shaking The AM Show guest Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, who was being interviewed live.

A magnitude 3.6 quake was later recorded at 10:21am, again striking 20km east of Rotorua at a depth of 5km. The shaking has been categorised at "weak", according to GeoNet.

"It's been a shaky morning in the Bay of Plenty - M4.5 earthquake followed by a M4.9, and there are a number of aftershocks occurring. It's shallow, and we've had more than 4000 felt reports," GeoNet tweeted.

The National Emergency Management Agency, formerly Civil Defence, reminded locals to "drop, cover and hold".

Residents in Cambridge, Hamilton, Matawai, Murupara, Opotiki, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu, Te Kaha, Te Kuiti, Tokoroa, Turangi, Whakatane, Whangamata and surrounding localities may have felt moderate shaking from the initial earthquake.

A Rotorua woman told Newshub the first tremors were "big" and "scary".

"Big earthquake in Rotorua, scary - another shake now," she said.

More than 3200 people reported feeling the initial earthquake, although the majority only experienced light or weak tremors. According to GeoNet, strong to severe shaking was predominantly felt in the Rotorua area.

A further 5000 people reported feeling the magnitude 4.9 aftershock, which hit roughly 15 minutes later.