Magnitude-7.8 Earthquake Strikes New Zealand

The powerful quake was centered near Christchurch.

— -- A magnitude-7.8 earthquake in New Zealand brought waves up to about 8 feet high, with the possibility that they would reach 10 to 16 feet high.

Waves reached 8 feet along the northern portion of the South Island of New Zealand, and offshore to the east, according to Vindeel Hsu of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

New Zealand's Civil Defense Ministry is warning people to stay away from beaches until is does pass.

The earthquake that generated the waves was centered over land, about 59 miles from Christchurch.

New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management tweeted that there is a tsunami threat for both the North Island and South Island of New Zealand. It tweeted that the North Island may be hit first, writing, "The tsunami may arrive in the Eastern Coast of the North Island shortly. Move inland or to higher ground immediately."

Christchurch was struck by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake in 2011 that killed 185 people.

ABC News' Matthew Foster contributed to this report.