Thieves have stolen guns from a Nelson home after the occupants had fled during the tsunami alert following yesterday's Hanmer Springs earthquake.
The 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck near Hanmer Springs at 12.02am yesterday and triggered tsunami waves and widespread alerts.
The firearms, some of them antique pieces, were taken from an address in Riwaka at about 7.30am yesterday.
The thefts follow 19 reported burglaries at homes in Canterbury that may have happened when people were evacuated from their properties.
"For someone to take advantage of others at a time like this is a deplorable act," said Nelson Bays police area commander Inspector Mathew Arnold-Kelly.
"We do not want these firearms to fall into the wrong hands.
"Police have launched an investigation as a matter of priority".
"We are appealing for members of the public to help us to recover these weapons.
Mr Arnold-Kelly said police were interested in sightings of individuals behaving suspiciously or collectors being approached to buy the firearms.
The burglars took a Lee Enfield 303, a Remington 110 shotgun, a Remington 552 .22, a Winchester 370 .22, an old side by side shotgun and a Lamber shotgun.
Police are keen to speak to a male Eurpoean in his mid to late 30s wearing a grey hoodie and black pants who was riding a red push bike in the area at the time, he said.