Wellington rattled by minor earthquake

Ben McKay

New Zealand's largest earthquake of 2020 has rattled Wellington, waking up residents of the capital.

At 11:45pm (09:45 AEDT) on Saturday night, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck around 80 kilometres northwest of Wellington.

More than 26,000 Kiwis reported shaking from the tremor, which was quite shallow at just 64km underground.

GeoNet, which monitors and reports earthquakes, said the moderately-rated earthquake was the most-felt tremor in the organisation's history.

The previous record was held by the monster 7.8 magnitude earthquake at Kaikoura in 2016 which killed two and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway called it a "wee jolt" from his hometown of Palmerston North, while finance minister Grant Robertson Tweeted "Yep, felt that. Long rumble, bit of a shake".

There have been no reports of major damage.

Saturday night's 5.4 magnitude quake was preceded by another quake, of 4.7 magnitude, just four hours earlier that was also felt by thousands.