A 5.9-magnitude earthquake has shaken New Zealand, seismologists say, panicking shoppers but prompting no reports of any major damage.

The quake struck at 3:36pm local time (03:36 GMT) on Friday, with its epicentre about 66km from the South Island town of Kaikoura at a depth of 55km, the US Geological Survey said.

The local GeoNet monitoring service measured the quake at 6.3 and said it was felt across the entire country, but was unlikely to cause damage because of it was so deep.

Stuart Grant, Kaikoura district council chief executive, told TVNZ if felt like two tremors in quick succession, describing the second of them as a "big jolt".

He said the council building was evacuated as a precaution but appeared undamaged.

The website of the New Zealand Herald newspaper cited Rachel Vaughn, public information manager for the Kaikoura Civil Defence, as saying that the quakes had left those in Kaikoura "scared and shaken up".

"We got two very strong jolts followed by a lot of shaking. We went under our desks and waited for it to stop," she told the daily.

"People were evacuated out of shops but they are going back to business as usual now."

Friday's earthquake struck in the same region as a 4.7 tremor that shook office buildings in Wellington the previous day.

The quake also struck on a day thousands of people lined the streets of the capital for the Anzac Street Parade.

Friday's parade is just one part of a busy week of commemorations in the New Zealand capital planned by a number of agencies including the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand Defence Force and Department of Internal Affairs, the New Zealand Herald said.

New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

Source: AFP And Al Jazeera