“This is the largest quake worldwide since May 2019 when a M 8.0 hit near Peru.
According to geologists at Michigan Technological University in the US, any earthquake on this scale has the power to destroy entire communities near the epicentre.
The Peru earthquake struck at a much deeper 110km but still caused a number of landslides and bridges to collapse.
The earthquake was also responsible for two deaths, 17 injuries and widespread damage to homes and public buildings.
There have been no reports of death or injuries from the New Zealand earthquake.
But more than 50,000 people have felt it, according to the geological hazard monitor Geonet.