BOATIES and swimmers are being urged to stay out of the sea, as a potential tsunami approaches New Zealand.
Tidal surges, created by an 8-magnitude earthquake near the Solomon Islands today could start to arrive early this evening.
Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) put New Zealand on a tsunami 'watch' this afternoon, and people are being urged to stay off beaches, and stay out of the sea, rivers and estuaries and to avoiding going sightseeing.
The MCDEM advisory, issued at at 5.20pm, covers the North Cape, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu/Wanganui, Gisborne, Kapiti, Marlborough, Nelson/Tasman, West Coast, Milford, Dunedin and the Chatham Islands.
MCDEM said unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows could be expected near the shore - which could be a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.
It said coastal inundation of land areas near the shore was not expected, but that assessment may change.