The release of "wish lanterns" at a birthday celebration for a Christchurch cancer sufferer may explain "strange" lights seen in the skies last night.
The lanterns were released in Fendalton at a gathering for Danelle Wakefield.
Wakefield has been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma cancer, which is a rare cancer normally found in children, and not adults.
Despite aggressive chemotherapy on a tumour in her shoulder, Wakefield has been told she has between two months and two years to live.
At a birthday party held for Wakefield last night, her family let off some "wish lanterns".
A poster on the event's Facebook page said it was "a beautiful moment" and that attendees joked that someone would "think they are aliens as they floated around the sky".
Wakefield has two children and is step-mother to a third.
A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she and her husband she saw "strange lights" over Bryndwr at 8pm last night.
"My husband and I were leaving our property on Aorangi Road at 8pm when my husband checked for traffic looking south.
"He saw strange lights in the sky. When I first looked they appeared to be fireworks, however they were not as they remained bright orange in colour and in a formation of approximately 12 lights moving at the same rate," she said.
The pair saw the lights head north in two groups.
"We turned the car engine off and stood on the road looking at them and there was no sound at all of aeroplane engines, they moved slowly, steadily and silently.
"One of the lights trailed behind the rest and moved rapidly faster than the others horizontally in an easterly direction."
The couple took a video of the lights on their mobile phone and say the lights appeared to travel just above the cloud.
"As they passed overhead their orange glow slowly dimmed and they went to a grey colour and could be seen to be circular in shape. There were no flashing wing tip lights to indicate an incoming aircraft or no flashing lights at all on the object."
Katie Ferguson, of Bishopdale, and her flatmate also saw the lights.
"He saw 12 lights [and] yelled out. I raced out to look and I could see six orange lights hovering in the same place.
"They were in two groups of three, then they distanced themselves from another and moved rapidly away, the cloud soon covered them but we were standing outside for a good two minutes trying to work out what we were seeing," she said.
Nathan Hanna said the lights appeared to travel northwards direction, against the easterly breeze. One even appeared to move independently in an opposite direction at one point.
"I can't say what the UFOs were, but can safely say they weren't lanterns," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Pals and playmates (pictures)
Reacting to a sudden cancellation
New Zealand's best deck built yesterday
Appreciating Tony Allen
The meaning of blogging