Jacinda Ardern explains what she was thinking during Monday's earthquake interview

Jacinda Ardern has revealed what she was thinking when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck while she was doing an interview on Monday.

The Prime Minister was speaking to Ryan Bridge on The AM Show live from Parliament when the quake struck at 7:55am.

"We are just having a bit of an earthquake here Ryan," she said. "It's quite a decent shake here, but if you see things moving behind me the Beehive moves a little more than most."

GeoNet confirmed the earthquake was from the northwest of Levin and the shaking was strong, with 19 aftershocks.

During Monday's COVID-19 press conference Ardern was asked how she felt when the earthquake hit, knowing she was still on live television.

"Are you serious? That was what was going through my head," she said.

She also explained the room she was in, the same as where the press conference was held, doesn't have anything to drop, cover and hold under and she couldn't determine the strength of the short quake.

"What I was also mindful of is that it is not always easy to get a real sense of the magnitude of an earthquake in here because of the base isolators, you can tend to move a little bit more than the quake implies in terms of strength."

The Beehive has a base-point isolation system which keeps it safe from earthquakes.

The rubber and Teflon pads act as a buffer zone between the concrete foundations and the building itself, absorbing violent shaking and allowing Parliament House to move separately from the ground.

The same system is used underneath Te Papa museum and numerous hospitals around New Zealand.

Social media users have praised Ardern for handling the situation calmly.

"What's a Wellington earthquake when, as Prime Minister, you've dealt with a massacre, an eruption and a pandemic," one commenter tweeted.

"As many ducked under beds and tables our Prime Minister rode an 5.8 earthquake like a boss," another wrote.

Canadian journalist Tom Harrington tweeted: "On live TV, NZ PM Jacinda Ardern reacts to an earthquake the way you and I react to a mosquito".