Stock items lie on a shop floor in the small Wairarapa town of Eketahuna on January 20, 2014 after a strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand, halting train services and knocking merchandise off shelves, but with no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.-AFP
WELLINGTON (AFP) - A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand Monday, swaying buildings and spilling goods from shelves, but authorities said there were no immediate reports of major damage.
The quake, which struck at 3:52pm (0252 GMT), was centred in the North Island about 115 kilometres (71 miles) northeast of the capital Wellington, according to the US Geological Survey.
The tremor hit at a depth of 27 kilometres and was widely felt throughout the North and South islands. It was followed by a series of smaller aftershocks.
New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, forming part of the so-called "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.
A devastating 6.3-magnitude temblor in the South Island city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people - one of the tiny nation's deadliest disasters of the modern era.
Wellington was the scene of the country's most powerful earthquake in 1855.
That devastating 8.2-magnitude quake caused four deaths and changed the city's entire geography, pushing the shoreline out 200 metres (660 feet) as it thrust the harbour floor upwards.