Two people are confirmed dead, and quakes have been recorded as far north as Pukekohe, just south of Auckland, meaning a large portion of the country has been affected by the tremors.
A tsunami warning was in place for much of the country overnight but was downgraded to a marine and beach threat shortly after 8am. The threat is in place from Napier and Hastings to the Waitaki Coast.
4.2 Earthquake here in Pukekohe, South Auckland. pic.twitter.com/6J5ggVUrJp— John Henry Longson🌐 (@Johnlongson) November 13, 2016
For schools that remain open, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) says all NCEA students will have to sit their scheduled exams today. If their school is closed, they will be given a derived mark based on other results in the subject.
Schools & ECE's from North Canterbury through to Wgtn City to remain closed until the buildings have been checked: https://t.co/s0pAqFRFcK— MinistryOfEducation (@EducationGovtNZ) November 13, 2016
All of the country's major airports remain open.
Traffic is expected to be worse than normal in a number of regions, as all trains in the South Island and most south of Palmerston North are cancelled until further notice.
We hope everyone is safe! The airport is operational for morning flights following a full runway inspection.— Wellington Airport (@WLGAirport) November 13, 2016
Below is a rundown of the worst-affected areas.
All trains and ferry services suspended after earthquake: Press Release – KiwiRail All trains on the North Island… https://t.co/D4gngf3JF7— Wellington News (@wellingtonnews) November 13, 2016
Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee revealed that some people may have died as a result of the earthquake in Kaikoura - but says "the extent of that is not yet reported".
The fire service has since confirmed that one person died when the Elm Homestead collapsed in Kaikoura. Another person was injured in the collapse.
A massive slip caused by the tremors has left Inland Kaikoura Rd totally obstructed, and large cracks have appeared in a number of roads in the neighbouring coastal town of Cheviot.
The capital was hit by small tsunami waves and a warning remained in place overnight.
An Interislander ferry that crossed Cook Strait is stranded in Wellington Harbour after the drawbridge that gets passengers onto the mainland partially collapsed and fell into the water.
The Interislander's linkspan has collapsed and is sitting in the water. Ferry Aratere stranded in Wellington harbour pic.twitter.com/UtHm4psEZz— Newshub Politics (@NewshubPolitics) November 13, 2016
People in Lyall Bay were urged to evacuate after surging was detected in the water, sending people running for the hills.
Those planning on travelling to Wellington CBD this morning have been advised to stay out until the afternoon.
Please if you are still on the flats go for high ground now seeing big changes in tideline— Lyall Bay (@lyallbaynz) November 13, 2016
A bit of clean up required at shops on Wellington's Cuba Street: pic.twitter.com/Ezjran4aBY— Newshub Politics (@NewshubPolitics) November 13, 2016
The small north Canterbury town is feared to be one of the worst-hit spots in the country, with another person killed in nearby Mt Lyford.
An earthquake saw a slip on the Waiau Ferry Bridge, leaving it badly damaged. There are reports the bridge has sunk as much as 40cm under the weight of the slip.
The Marlborough township has been hit by dozens of aftershocks this morning, which have matched Kaikoura in severity - with some stronger than magnitude-5.
More aftershocks are likely to be felt in Seddon.
M5.5 quake causing strong shaking near Seddon https://t.co/0UrTF8HlUA— GeoNet (@geonet) November 13, 2016
Tsunami sirens were ringing out throughout the southern city for much of the night.