Video: Mind-blowing simulation shows how devastating 7.8 quake ripped across New Zealand like a fireball

Scientists continue to pore over seismic, satellite and GPS data to try to understand the complexities of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in North Canterbury early last week.

GNS Science has created a simulation of last week's devastating quake, showing the earthquake's seismic waves rippling across the top-half of the South Island and the bottom of the North Island.

GNS has described the shake as very complex and, as a result, many faults have ruptured.

It's the biggest quake in New Zealand in the last century, alongside since the magnitude 7.8 Dusky Sound earthquake in 2009 and the Napier earthquake of 1931.

Named the Kaikoura earthquake, scientists describe it as a complex rupture sequence that produced ground-shaking that lasted for about two minutes.

It was felt throughout the country.

It was centred east of Hanmer Springs at a depth of 15km.

The most severe shaking occurred about 50 seconds after the quake rupturing started.

Most of the energy from the quakes was directed to the north, GNS says.

A similar phenomena was seen with the Dusky Sound quake in Fiordland, where most of the energy was directed out into the Tasman Sea.

Like other large earthquakes in New Zealand, the Kaikoura quake appears to have involved jumping from one fault rupture to another in a complex pattern.

This compound style of rupture was a feature of the magnitude 7.1 Darfield quake of 2010 where up to eight neighbouring faults ruptured almost simultaneously, GNS says.

When all joined up, the fault ruptures from last Monday's quake extended for about 100km.

It occurred in a part of the upper South Island some scientists are describing as "an area of knotted faults" mostly trending north-east to south-west.