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New Zealand is rocked by FOURTH earthquake as tsunami warning is eased after disturbing video shows huge wave surge

NEW Zealand was hit by a fourth earthquake as video showed a tsunami wave surging towards the shore.

Terrified residents had fled to high ground ground before another quake struck the Kermadec Islands around noon on Friday.

The 6.5 magnitude quake struck at 12.12pm local time and followed one of 8.1 by the islands, off northeastern New Zealand on Friday morning.

New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency issued a tsunami warning after the earlier earthquake struck around 8.29am time at a depth of six miles.

People across the country had been woken up by a rumbling sound as their houses shook after the quakes struck.

Video showed large surges of water coming ashore at Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast of the country.

Gina Chaffey-Aupouri​, who has lived there for the last 60 years, told Stuff.co.nz she has never seen anything like it as she watched from the hill above as the water move in strange ways.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen a surge," she said.

SURGING WAVES

"They’ve occurred about three times since evacuating. At first, you see the sea and its stillness, then it begins to swirl and go in all different directions.”

She was among the many residents of beachside towns who fled for higher ground after the first three quakes, which triggered blaring tsunami sirens and warnings to evacuate via text messages.

The tsunami warnings were later stood down and people who had evacuated returned to their homes.

The two latest quakes followed two earlier ones that registered magnitude 7.4 also near the Kermadec Islands and magnitude 7.3 near Hikurangi.

The 8.1 magnitude earthquake sparked a series of tremors for hours afterwards, with a number of magnitude 5 shockwaves felt in the region.

"It's hard not to feel like our country is having a run of bad luck, when you have an earthquake, tsunami and pandemic to contend with all in one day," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Linda Tatare, a resident of Anaura Bay, on the North Island's east coast, said the small community of about 50 left for higher ground in the morning.

"Everyone, and their dogs, are up in the hills. We are safe. We can all see our properties from here," she said.

Tsunami warnings were also put out for Pacific islands including New Caledonia and Vanuatu, the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Smaller tsunami waves may be recorded as far away as Antarctica and parts of South America, it added.

The series of quakes was caused by tectonic movement on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific plates, part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire that New Zealand sits on.

A decade ago, a magnitude 6.3 quake killed 185 people in the South Island city of Christchurch.

Terrified residents said the earthquake was felt more than 600 miles away in Christchurch.

One person living in the Lower Hutt suburb of Petone in the North Island said: "Medium shake that kept rolling for a while. Woke us up." 

A person living in Wellington said the quake "woke me up". 

One man in Hawke's Bay - on the west coast of the North Island - said he had already fled to a higher point. 

"Waiting on the Napier hill for updates. Stay safe everyone," he said.

Another woman said: "So just delivered a baby and missed a 7.3 earthquake came home to find whole family awake.

'VERY LOUD RUMBLE'

"We just drove to higher ground for tsunami evacuation. So it’s a pretty uneventful night."

Others told authorities to "use the sirens" to wake up residents.

A terrified woman said: "Was felt down here in the south island of New Zealand, house shook and was a very loud rumble! My heart is very fluttery after that."

Another man wrote: "I know everyone is very much awake now and most people are getting to high ground.

"This morning has been a rough time it’s going to be hard to see the damages done later on in the morning."

More than 60,000 people reported feeling the second quake on GeoNet's website, with 282 describing the shaking as "severe" and 75 saying it was "extreme".

Aftershocks were still being recorded in the area, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said there is no tsunami threat to Australia.

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