Teams of engineering and welfare personnel were moving into the suburbs of Christchurch on Thursday to check on people outside the central city.
The Government says 40 teams of Earthquake Commission and other personnel would begin evaluations on Thursday, with a further 60 teams to start in the next three days.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the teams will be checking on people and the stability of buildings in Brighton, Dallington, Avonside, Parklands, Queens Park, St Martins Opawa and Lyttelton.
Each team has a building inspector, an engineer, a person from the Earthquake Commission and a welfare volunteer.
The disaster operation will also focus on the supply of water and food.
Devastation in seaside communities
There are scenes of devastation in the Christchurch seaside communities of Sumner and Redcliffs following the 6.3-magnitude quake.
Radio New Zealand's reporter says a house in Redcliffs has been flattened by rocks fallen from the cliffs, and a piece of rock the size of a house has taken out the Sumner RSA.
Sumner's shag rock has crumbled to half its former height.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says the situation in Lyttelton, where up to 60% of the buildings on the main street collapsed in the quake, remains dire.
Dr Mapp says people are hugely reliant on food provided by navy personnel who provided 1000 meals on Wednesday.
The Taskforce Leader of the urban search and rescue team in Christchurch Paul Burns says assessments have been completed in Sumner and Lyttelton.
Mr Burns says the police report that even though those two places are badly damaged, as far as the rescue capability goes there hasn't been much action, which is good news.