From ‘gently rolling’ to ‘a sharp jolt’, earthquake shake confounds

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake, 30km north-east of French Pass, was felt by more than 44,000 people on Thursday.


A magnitude 5.8 earthquake, 30km north-east of French Pass, was felt by more than 44,000 people on Thursday.

From a nonplussed cat to a plane being diverted, there were mixed reactions to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake that rattled homes all over the country on Thursday evening.

It struck at 9.07pm, and was centred 30km north-east of French Pass at the top of the South Island, at a depth of 51km, GNS Science said.

More than 44,000 people reported feeling the quake – residents from across the motu, including Christchurch, Motueka, Wairarapa, Raglan, New Plymouth and South Auckland.

About 44 people about the country rated the shaking as extreme, including reports from Auckland and Christchurch.

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A passenger on Air New Zealand flight NZ457 from Auckland to Wellington said their flight was unable to land safely in Wellington and was diverted to Christchurch as a result of the quake.

Wellington Airport confirmed one flight was affected.

Many people experienced the quake differently across the country.

John Robins in Levin said his house creaked with “moderate slowish shaking, whereas John Emanuel from Richmond near Nelson described the quake as a “sharp, single jolt”.

Alison Tuck in Waikato said she mistook a “gentle rolling motion” for a dizzy spell and was glad to find she wasn’t imagining things when she read about the quake on Stuff.

David Whyte in Wellington said he was surprised to find that his wife in another room did not feel what he described as a “sharp, sideways – east to west slide”.

“The cat did not move either. That is odd to me as this quake was fast and sharp. I can hardly believe she did not feel that quake,” Whyte said.

One resident in Foxton Beach said they felt a “very strong” shake, “rolling for a long time”.

Alison Armstrong, of Nelson, said the “long, strong” quake gave her quite a fright.

“It’s been a while since the Kaikōura, Seddon quakes. So [it was] quite a wake-up call,” she said.

K W Austin said he was watching a movie in his Masterton home when the quake hit.

“I felt the cat jump on to the back of the couch. Only there was no cat when I looked,” Austin said.

Austin said he knew there was a quake when he heard the crockery still rattling in his lounge after the jolt.

Phillipa Hart Smith was in a Wellington hospital recovering from a joint replacement when the quake shook her room.

“I couldn’t ‘drop, cover and hold’ being attached to drips and bags,” she said.

Hart Smith said she felt “shaken” by the event but was confident she was safe and “in a good place in hospital”.

As of 7am on Friday there were no reports of significant aftershocks on the GeoNet website.

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