The quake struck under the Cook Strait that separates the North and South Islands at a depth of 74 kilometers (50 miles), USGS reported.
Wellington is on the southern end of the more populous North Island, which is responding to a cyclone this week that has left four people dead and is the South Pacific nation’s most destructive weather event in decades.
While Cyclone Gabrielle is moving away from New Zealand, an unrelated weather system is forecast to bring more heavy rain in the days ahead, which will increase risks of further landslides and flooding.
The nation of 5 million people sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.
An earthquake in Christchurch on the South Island in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings.
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