Schools and houses on Vanuatu's southernmost island of Aneityum were damaged when a tsunami hit after yesterday's 7.6 earthquake off New Caledonia.

The owner of a tour company on nearby Mystery Island Benie Masauvakalo, said a surge of water moved inland but people had fled to higher ground.

Mr Masauvakalo, who was speaking from Port Vila, said he had reports from his staff that the water moved about 200 meters inland.

He said schools and two or three houses had been damaged but no one was hurt and the schools were not occupied at the time.

Mr Masauvakalo said his kayaks were washed inland.

Sammy Chilia was on Mystery Island when the wave hit about 4pm yesterday local time.

He said he was sitting on a floating jetty near the beach when he saw the sea surge.

Mr Chilia said people moved to higher ground and no one was hurt.