Shares in Australian banks and insurers fell between 1.4 and over 2.7 percent after a strong quake hit New Zealand's second-biggest city of Christchurch on Tuesday for the second time in five months.

The 6.3 magnitude quake toppled buildings, caused multiple fatalities, and sparked fires and raised investor concern over bank default and mounting insurance claims for the companies yet to recover from the devastating floods and storms in Australia.

The top four Australian banks -- National Australia Bank (NAB.AX), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX), Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX) and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ.AX) all run large New Zealand units.

The banks were down between 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent in Sydney afternoon trade.

A Commonwealth Bank of Australia spokeswoman only said its ASB Bank unit had shut branches in Christchurch and was now focusing on the safety of employees.

Australian insurers --Insurance Australia Group (IAG.AX), Suncorp (SUN.AX) and QBE Insurance (QBE.AX) -- were worse off falling at least 2.4 percent in afternoon trade.

The Christchurch earthquake last September was estimated a $1 billion event for the insurers with most of it covered by reinsurance.

Analysts do not expect Tuesday's quake to hurt earnings of the insurers but they see the need for the purchase of more reinsurance cover in the event of another significant event in the next two months.

Some shares rose on the news of the quake, including New Zealand building supplies firm Fletcher Building Ltd FBU.NZ, which rose 2 percent in a weak broader market.