The 76km deep earthquake was centred 20km west of Ohakune, in the Tongariro National Park, just before 4pm on Friday.
Thousands reported feeling the moderate quake on the GeoNet site, with people as far afield as Central Otago town Palmerston reporting a shake.
The GeoNet website is run by the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science.
The quake had a depth of 76km and the intensity was described as moderate.
GeoNet said 4732 people had reported feeling the tremor.
“Subduction zone event so felt quite far,” they said via their Twitter account.
Many people took to social media as the quake’s effects subsided.
“Oh my god that EQ was not fun. Especially when I’m already nauseous and unwell,” tweeted TVNZ reporter @katieabradford.
Local festival organiser Erin Banks, @Captain_Banks, hid under her desk.
“ewww yuck under my desk #eqnz,” she tweeted.
There are no immediate reports of damage.