A Tsunami Potential Threat has been issued for the Northland coast, Auckland West, East Cape, Gisborne, Auckland East, New Plymouth and Wellington following a massive earthquake in Solomon Islands.
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management says scientific advisors are in the process of assessing the situation to determine the severity of the threat to New Zealand.
At this stage it has not been upgraded to a Tsunami Warning.
Civil Defence is advising people in coastal areas to be aware that a tsunami is possible, listen to the radio and television for further updates and follow any instructions they may receive from Civil Defence authorities.
The first wave may arrive in New Zealand in the areas around North Cape between 6pm and 7pm today.
The ministry warns the first wave may arrive later and may not be the largest. It says waves may continue for several hours.
People in coastal areas are warned to stay off beaches and out of the water including the sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities.
People should not go sightseeing and they should share news of the warning with family, neighbours and friends and also listen to the radio and/or television for updates, on Radio New Zealand National every 15 minutes.
They should also follow instructions of the local Civil Defence authorities.
Civil Defence spokesperson Tony Wallace says the country's National Crisis Management Centre, known as The Bunker, has been activated and the situation is being continually assessed.