The quake struck at 9.30 this morning and was centred 5km south of Culverden, at a depth of 12 kilometres.
More than 550 people, mostly in Christchurch, reported they felt the rattle on the GeoNet site.
It comes about two months after a magnitude-6.2km quake hit Geraldine, in South Canterbury, in what was the strongest earthquake to hit New Zealand this year.
The latest quake follows a light shake in the capital earlier this morning.
The 3.5 magnitude quake was centred 10 kilometres south-east of Lower Hutt.