Papamoa Progressive Associations's test at 9am today of a tsunami siren warning system showed the "big howlers'' could be heard loud and clear by a person sitting inside a car 5km away near the Kaituna River cut.
The wind-assisted test was conducted from two locations in Papamoa _ in Market Place off Enterprise Drive and Palm Beach Boulevard.
Association chairman Steve Morris was pleased with the early results from the first test of a Wellington manufacturer's hugely enhanced model of a World War II air raid siren.
The test was repeated at 10.30 at two locations in Mount Maunganui.
Papamoa volunteer fire brigade chief fire officer Allan Bicker has been fielding calls all morning from concerned locals asking why the fire siren was going off.
"The fire sirens are exactly the same as the tsunami warning siren ... but ours goes up and down three times for about 90 seconds while this one's been going for 6-7 minutes I believe then it finishes with a single blast to mean all clear," he said.
"I've had about five calls coming from all over the place."
"It's good that people can hear the warning but it amazes me that people aren't aware of what it means."
The association is promoting an alternative tsunami warning system to the one favoured by the Tauranga City Council.
They argued it was was about a quarter of the cost of the council's preference _ the electronic Meerkat system.
Tactical Tooling, the manufacturers of the air raid-style sirens, say it would take between seven and 10 sirens to cover the city at a cost of up to $200,000 in stalled.
First reports from the Mount test was that it also had been heard far and wide along the coastal strip.