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'A nasty jolt' - Wellington rocked by early morning quake

A large earthquake described as a "nasty jolt" has shaken the lower half of the North Island this morning.

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The 5.8 magnitude quake struck near Levin and was widely felt across the lower North Island. Source: Breakfast

People in Wellington reported to have felt the decent 5.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck 30km north-west of Levin at a depth of 37km at 7.53am.

Over 36,000 people reported feeling it, with some saying they felt it as far away as Christchurch.

GeoNet reported that at least 45 aftershocks also took place as of 10.52am, with M4.4 being the biggest. 

National MP Amy Adams said it was a "nasty jolt", while Finance Minister Grant Robertson said it's "not what we need right now".

"Big long rumble leading up to that. Hope all OK up the line in Levin area."

Horowhenua District Mayor Bernie Wanden said the quake was "very strong" and that "it went for a considerable amount of time".

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Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden talks about the 5.8 quake centred near Levin. Source: Breakfast

"I'm just waiting for a couple of calls - people are running around checking infrastructure and buildings and having a look - it was a really good shake," Mr Wanden said.

Sally-Ann Moffat wrote on Twitter: "That was a long and jerky rumble - things are still shaking at ours in Wgtn - cats and dog all reacted." 

All Wellington train services are being held. 

Three further shakes have also be recorded by GeoNet, with a number of people reporting to have felt them.