Footage of an apparent tsunami wave in New Zealand has been shared after residents were told to leave the coast for higher ground following an 8.1-magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean.
The biggest of three consecutive earthquakes struck about 966 kilometres from New Zealand on Friday morning at a depth of about 12 kilometres, sparking warnings from authorities for residents to leave their homes immediately.
"People evacuating should walk, run or cycle if possible to reduce the chance of getting stuck in traffic. Do not return until all-clear is given by Civil Defence," New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency said in a tweet.
The first waves rolled onto shorelines on the North Island about 10am, with incredible footage emerging online a short time after.
One video showed a surging wave approaching the coast at Tokomaru Bay on the North Island east coast, where locals had sought refuge on high ground just hours earlier.
One witness told Stuff the wave appeared to have a "shade difference" compared to the water in the bay.
Just after 1pm (local time) the threat of a tsunami was downgraded to a beach and marine threat due to the largest waves having passed, meaning people who had been evacuated could return home.
Waves were expected to be between one and three metres high, with tsunami warnings also in place for Australia's Norfolk Island.
"All people who evacuated can now return. The advice remains, for all areas under Beach and Marine threat, to stay off beach and shore areas," a notice read.
A wave 64cm in height was recorded at Norfolk Island about 10am, with more expected for the coming hours.
A marine warning is still in place for Norfolk Island, where residents were told to expect dangerous rips, waves and strong ocean currents, as well as localised overflow onto the immediate foreshore.
Mayor of Whangarei North Sheryl Migh told ABC News the impact of waves yet to hit the coast in New Zealand would be different depending on the direction they were heading.
"And the patterns they have as they hit the coastline will move as well. We are uncertain of what the impact will be at this stage," Ms Migh said.
"Social media is fabulous, we're getting of people putting coasts on Facebook — posts, with videos of the coastline and movement of water. Until now, it has been relatively calm and we are waiting for the impact to hit."
The National Emergency Management Agency said "strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges" were still expected for New Zealand coastal areas.
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