A deadly magnitude 7.8 Earthquake struck New Zealand's South Island, leaving two people dead. According to the US Geological Survey the earthquake struck just after midnight (11:02 GMT Sunday) around 95km from Christchurch. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami just two hours later in Kaikoura with small but very dangerous waves hitting the coast near Wellington according to the weather site, Weather Watch.

Head for higher ground warnings

The ministry of civil defence advised residents on the South island near the east coast, as well as those living in the nearby Chatham islands to head inland or for higher ground.

They also described the Tsunami as " an event of life-threatening or national significance. However by 08:00 am local time (19:00 GMT) the prime minister John Key downgraded the warning to "marine and beach threat" as the waves only reached 1 meter along the small stretch of coast which included the Chatham islands, an archipelago some 680 km of the mainland.

People coping very well

Authorities in New Zealand said the regions were coping well with the disaster and said they were not yet declaring a national emergency. St Johns ambulance have been sending helicopters with rescue and medical personnel to the epicenter of the quake, where many homes have been destroyed and fissures in the ground have caused landslides.

Elsewhere in the city, the earthquake has caused a ferry loading ramp toe collapse, sending hundreds of tourists onto the streets as hotels were evacuated.

'Drop, cover and hold'

New Zealand police have said in a statement: "A number of after-shocks of a lesser magnitude have been experienced up and down the country. Police continue to remind members of the public to 'drop, cover and hold' during any subsequent earthquake".

The earthquake comes five years after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch in 2011 causing widespread damage and killing 185 people. It was one of the deadliest disasters to hit the nations and caused an estimated $25 billion in damage.