Footage of tsunami waves hitting Tokomaru Bay, in the East Cape region, around 11:30am has been posted on social media.
Waiapu Civil Defence posted the video, taken by Claudia Maaka, showing the tsunami waves hitting the shore of the bay, following the three powerful earthquakes that hit off the coast of New Zealand earlier today.
New Zealand is wrapped in a range of tsunami warnings, covering both the east and west coasts of the country, across both islands.
New Zealanders in coastal areas have been told to “move immediately” and evacuate to higher ground, where they are expected to have to stay for some time.
Hundreds of workers, students and residents have headed to higher ground – and a tsunami threat that affects much of the Northland, Bay of Plenty, east coast and upper west coast coastlines.
Residents were told to move immediately to higher ground after the magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off the Kermadec Islands, 1000km northeast of New Zealand, at 8.28am (NZT).
There has been gridlock in cities such as Whangārei and on other roads around the affected regions but roads are clearing.
New Zealanders in coastal areas across the country are on high alert, and some report the landscape changing, with waves approaching and rivers emptying as the country remains on tsunami warning.
Thousands of residents left homes, workplaces and schools to get to higher ground, with reports of heavy traffic in centres such as Whāngarei and Whakatāne. There were reports of people at the beach in Tologa Bay, with cameras.
Businesses in central Whāngarei evacuated and employees advised to go to higher ground.
A central Whāngarei worker earlier this morning said it was packed in town as people tried to evacuate.
“There were heaps of people standing on the street outside their workplaces.”
A tsunami alert siren sounded in the Whangārei suburb of Onerahi.
Whangarei Intermediate School evacuated, with pupils walking to higher ground at the cycle track near their school.
People were being told to walk, run or cycle if possible to reduce the chance of getting stuck in traffic.
The National Emergency Management Agency says people should not return to low-lying coastal areas until the all-clear is given by Civil Defence.
According to USGS the latest quake to hit off the Kermadec Islands was magnitude 8.1 and 19.4km deep.
This was the third and largest quake above magnitude seven to hit the Pacific region this morning.
A 7.4 quake struck near Raoul Island in the Kermadecs at 6.41am – and many New Zealanders were shaken awake by a magnitude 7.1 quake off the North Island’s east coast at 2.27am.
Both of the earlier quakes triggered Civil Defence tsunami warnings that were later lifted but the third quake sparked the strongest warnings.
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