Tsunami waves were possible within 300 km of the quake's epicenter, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said.
Residents were told they could return home but were warned to stay off beaches.
"The natural disaster may not have been felt in some of these areas, but evacuation should be immediate as a damaging tsunami is possible", it said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand was among those given an early morning wake-up.
A tsunami watch has been issued for all of Hawaii's islands and other locations after an natural disaster reported as magnitude 8.1 struck in the Southern Pacific Ocean.
The quakes prompted thousands of New Zealanders to evacuate in the dark. New Zealand residents only reported gridlock as people fled their homes for higher ground, as well as some structural damage.
As the Associated Press reports, an earlier warning the agency issued for American Samoa was later downgraded to an advisory, but Hawaii is now under a tsunami watch.
Residents were also told to get out of the water and move away from the water's edge at beaches, marinas, coastal estuaries and rock platforms.
Their coasts could see wave surges as high as 3m (10ft), while parts of South America - including Peru, Ecuador and Chile - were warned they could see 1m waves reaching their coasts.
A huge, 8.1M underwater quake struck in a remote area between New Zealand and Tonga Thursday morning, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is saying that tsunamis may be possible in Hawaii later today as a result.
The agency says smaller tsunami have been observed on Australia's Norfolk Island and New Zealand's Great Barrier Island.
It was an 8.1 magnitude quake whose epicenter lay in the ocean, about 600 miles north of New Zealand.
Emergency Services Minister Kiri Allan said coastal communities responded to the warnings.
It said the interaction between the plates creates one of the most seismically active regions in the world, and it has recorded 215 quakes there above magnitude 6.0 over the past century. People near the coast from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay were told to evacuate.
"This is about as big as it gets", she said.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude slightly lower, at 6.9.
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The natural disaster had an initial reading of 7.3, however, it was revised moments later. "It was rolling back and forth". This will help us provide more first-hand updates to anyone around the globe who wants to know more about this quake.
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Une alerte au tsunami en a découlé pour le pays, tandis que les autorités ont évoqué un risque avéré pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie. Sont concernées également les Tonga, les Samoa, les îles Cook, les Fidji, le Vanuatu ainsi que les Françaises Wallis et Futuna.
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