Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or, is it a spaceship? Whatever it is, it appears unidentified flying objects are on the rise.
Since 2000, there have been 13 UFO sightings reported to the Civil Aviation Authority, with three this year. Despite quite colourful initial reports, including one "with flames coming out of it" above Kimbolton in 2009, the CAA decided in all 13 sighting that there was not sufficient information to warrant formally investigating.
Ufocus NZ Research Network director Suzanne Hansen said most sightings were in the North Island, particularly around the Bay of Plenty.
"It's gone quite crazy in about the last three years. There's been a significant increase in the amount of people reporting UFOs to us and the quality of the sightings," she said.
Hansen said when someone reported a UFO they went through a process of elimination to establish whether it was identifiable, such as a helicopter, weather balloon or Chinese lantern.
In May, several people reported seeing "strange lights" in the sky above Christchurch, with videos appearing on YouTube. However, it turned out a family had released 10 lanterns.
Hansen said people would often get annoyed when they were told it their sighting was in fact, identifiable. "They want it to be alien life," she said.
New Zealand Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde said about 10 to 15 per cent of UFO sightings were never explained as there was not enough information.
"It's a huge jump to go from ‘I don't know what it is' to ‘it's an alien spacecraft with little green men'," she said.
"The suggestion of having intelligent life is such a huge game-changer that we need to have game-changing evidence."
KiwiSpace executive director Mark Mackay said unidentified flying objects were usually satellites or lanterns.
- Sunday Star Times