UFO sightings in Taranaki, Waikato skies
JAY BOREHAM, LAIRD HARPER AND BEN STANLEY
A Hawera family had a close encounter amid a spate of sightings of mystery lights speeding through Taranaki and Waikato skies.
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A flaming ball dancing above Hawera left residents in stunned awe on Tuesday as it zig-zagged through the night sky, while Waikato residents are certain they saw a UFO on Saturday.
Aaron Sellwood and his family in Hawera wondered if they were seeing things when what they believe is a UFO put on a spectacular light show before speeding away. But when the strange object returned, 20 minutes later, all doubt was removed.
Mr Sellwood said he was standing on his driveway on Burns St at 8.55pm when a fireball in the sky caught his eye.
"I looked at it and could see a flamey-type object with a dark shadow on top which looked to be a pyramid shape with a round top," he said.
Mr Sellwood said he then rushed inside and grabbed his ex- partner and four children to come and have a look.
The flaming object then hovered in the sky above his neighbours' house. "It turned its flames off and it looked like it was cooling down. There was what looked like an element beneath it - a big red ring," he said.
Hawera Observatory and Astronomical Society secretary Pat Sutherland said she saw a similar event a week before.
Mrs Sutherland said a light to the north-east of Hawera danced in the sky and appeared to "zoom towards her".
"I thought it was a planet to start with because it wasn't sparkling, but then it started moving."
She said the night sky was not foreign to her and she knew when something unusual was happening.
Hawera dairy worker Graham Fraser witnessed a similar event earlier this year on January 17.
He said he was heading to work at 5.13am when he noticed a bright light in the sky just south of the Hawera subway tunnel.
"It was a beautiful clear morning, I could see Venus and what I thought was a couple of stars.
"But one of them wasn't because it started moving while I was looking at it," he said.
The South Taranaki town is proving to be a hot spot for mysterious lights as another bright orange light was spotted above the southern end of Hawera about 9.40pm on Boxing Day last year.
The Airways Corporation, which monitor all New Zealand air traffic, could not shed any light on this week's mystery.
Communications manager Nikki Hawkey said their radar centre reported nothing had been logged on Tuesday night about anything unusual in the Hawera area.
WAIKATO SIGHTING: 'SOMETHING WAS TRAVELLING THROUGH THE SKY THAT NIGHT'
North Hamilton man Adrian Kilpatrick is convinced he and his wife Kathryn saw a unidentified flying object above his Woodridge home last Saturday night.
When he first saw it, at around 6.30pm, Mr Kilpatrick, a long-time believer in UFOs, thought it was a light plane coming into land.
"But then it looked like the plane was on fire, like the engines were glowing orange," he said, adding that the object's absolute silence had made him wonder further of its origins.
He estimated the object was flying around the height a small aircraft might fly and appeared less than two kilometres north of their house.
It moved towards Hamilton from Ngaruawahia, before changing direction and zipping towards Morrinsville.
Mr Kilpatrick estimated it was visible for about three minutes.
"The people who are skeptical about UFOs haven't seen one yet. They are real," the Hamilton businessman said.
Suli Laomakei and Kelly Dixon have seen something too. The pair, employees at Te Rapa's Prolife Foods, were outside taking a cigarette break at around 11pm when they saw a "light the size of the moon" moving quickly across the night sky on March 29.
"It was very bright when it moved. Everything below it lit up," Ms Laomakei said. "It was huge, and looked like it had flames coming out of it."
Ms Laomakei, who estimated the object was only around 100m off the ground, said she was not a believer in UFOs before the sighting, but the strange light had her scratching her head. "Something was travelling through the sky that night," she said.
METEOR, SPACE STATION EXPLANATIONS
Auckland Stardome Observatory astronomer Dr Grant Christie said a meteor entered the atmosphere over New Zealand around 11pm on the night of March 29, lighting up the night sky.
Dr Christie estimated the fireball to be travelling around 30 and 80km above the earth, describing as one of the brightest observed fireballs above New Zealand since 1999.
As for Mr Kilpatrick's travelling light? Observatory spokesperson Gina Dellabarca said it was likely caused by the International Space Station (ISS), which is currently manned by six people and orbiting around 350 km above Earth. Its last pass was at around 6pm yesterday. It is expected over New Zealand again this Saturday at about 6.30pm.
Mr Kilpatrick however remains firm that his sighting was indeed a UFO.
"Does it (the ISS) fly around 200 metres off the ground?," he asked. "It's not the same thing. Once you've seen it, you know it's real."
- Taranaki Daily News and Waikato Times