Quake shakes New Zealand's South Island, no damage reported

The Pacific Ring of Fire. (AFP Photo/Sabrina BLANCHARD)

A moderate 5.5-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand's South Island Thursday but police said there were no reports of damage and the offshore tremor did not prompt a tsunami warning.

The shallow quake struck at 10:20am (2220 GMT) just off the coast of the remote Milford Sound region at a depth of 14 kilometres (nine miles), the US Geological Survey said.

New Zealand's official GeoNet seismic monitoring service put the strength at 5.9 and an even shallower depth of five kilometres.

While the quake was widely felt across the lower South Island, police said there were no reports of damage.

"We certainly felt it. We've got cars out the front here and they were just rolling around in the car park there," Helen Archer, a resident of Te Anau township, told the New Zealand Herald.

"It was just rolling. The two of us here feel a bit car-sick or sea-sick still."

New Zealand lies on the Pacific Basin "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide generating more than 15,000 earthquakes a year, although only 100–150 are strong enough to be felt.

A shallow 6.3 quake in the South Island city of Christchurch killed 185 people in 2011, while a 7.8 shake slightly further north in 2016 was the second strongest ever recorded in the country.