Strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake jolts New Zealand

WELLINGTON (AFP) - A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand on 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 local time, was centred in the North Island about 115km northeast of the capital Wellington, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The tremor hit at a depth of 27km 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 200m as it thrust the harbour floor upwards.