New Zealand: A powerful magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck in the southern Pacific Ocean near New Caledonia on Wednesday, prompting authorities to warn of a tsunami threat to nearby islands.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of between 1 and 3 metres were possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, while waves of up to 1 metre were possible in Fiji.

The warning centre said there was no threat to Hawaii.

According to the US Geological Survey, the quake struck about 168 kilometres east of Tadine in New Caledonia at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres. Earthquakes are generally more destructive when the epicentre is near the surface.

At least five aftershocks also hit, ranging in magnitude from 5.6 to 6.0.

New Caledonia sits on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire', the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.