NZ's biggest quakes

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake is the largest to hit New Zealand since the 7.8 magnitude quake in Dusky Sound which struck last year.

That quake, which was not near a populated area and did not cause damage, was the largest in the country in nearly 80 years.

This morning’s quake was the seventh largest earthquake in New Zealand in recent history.

New Zealand's biggest quakes:

- M 7.8, Dusky Sound, July 15 2009 This earthquake in Fiordland was New Zealand's largest for nearly 80 years.

- M 6.8, Gisborne, December 20 2007 This offshore event caused buildings to collapse in the Gisborne CBD.

- M 6.5, Edgecumbe, March 2 1987 The shallow origin of this earthquake made it very destructive.

- M 7.1, Inangahua, May 24 1968 The 1968 Inangahua earthquake caused widespread damage and was felt over much of the country.

- M 7.0, Wairarapa II, August 2 1942 The shock that struck the Wairarapa Region on August 2 was nearly as severe as the disastrous June 24 earthquake five weeks earlier.

- M 7.2, Wairarapa I, June 24 1942 This earthquake severely rocked the lower North Island on June 24 1942, causing extensive damage to local buildings.

- M 7.6, Horoeka (Pahiatua), March 5 1934 The 1934 Horoeka earthquake shook the lower North Island on March 5 1934 and was felt as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.

- M 7.8, Hawke's Bay, February 3 1931 The 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake caused the largest loss of life and most extensive damage of any quake in New Zealand’s recorded history.

- M 7.8, Buller (Murchison), June 17 1929 The massive rumbling of the 1929 Buller earthquake was heard as far away as New Plymouth.

- M 7.1, North Canterbury, September 1 1888 In 1888 the Amuri District was shaken by a large earthquake that reached intensities of MM 9.

- M 8.2, Wairarapa, January 23 1855 The 1855 earthquake is the most severe earthquake to have occurred in New Zealand since systematic European colonisation began in 1840.

- M 7.8, Marlborough, October 16 1848 The earthquake that shook Marlborough on October 16 1848 was the largest in a series of earthquakes to hit the region that year.