Kaikoura Lights is a name given by the New Zealand media to a series of sightings that occurred in
December 1978, over the skies above the Kaikoura mountain ranges of the northeastern South Island of New Zealand.
The first sightings were
made on December 21 when the crew of a Safe Air Ltd cargo aircraft
began observing a series of strange lights around their Armstrong Whitworth AW.660
aircraft, which tracked along with their aircraft for
several minutes before disappearing and then reappearing elsewhere.
The pilots described some of the lights to be the size of a house
and others small but flashing brilliantly. These objects appeared
on the air traffic controller
radar in Wellington and also on the aircraft's on-board radar.
The objects were also seen by hundreds of people on the
On December 30, 1978, a television crew from Australia
recorded background film for a network
show on interviews about the sightings. For many minutes at a
time on the flight to Christchurch, unidentified lights were observed by five people
on the flight deck, were tracked by Wellington Air Traffic Controllers, and filmed
in color by the television crew.
One object reportedly
followed the aircraft almost until landing. The cargo plane then
took off again with the television crew still on board, heading for
When the aircraft reached about 2000 feet,
it encountered a gigantic lighted orb, which fell into station off
the wing tip and tracked along with the cargo aircraft for almost
quarter of an hour, while being filmed, watched, tracked on the
aircraft radar and described on a tape recording made by the TV
Following the sightings, the Royal New Zealand Air Force
police and the Carter Observatory in Wellington cooperated in an
investigation, the results of which were stamped Top Secret
and lodged in the National Archives in
Wellington. The New Zealand Ministry of
Defence attributed the sightings to lights from squid boats
reflected off clouds, unburned meteors, or lights from the planet
Venus or trains and cars. In the United States, investigating scientists are still extracting a
wealth of detailed information from that film, which one of them
has described as being comparable in scientific interest to the
rocks brought back from the moon.
- The Kaikoura UFOs. ISBN 0-340-25689-3. Startup, Bill;
Illingworth, Neill; 1980; Hodder and Stoughton; Auckland, London,
- New Zealand UFO Studies Centre: "Kaikoura UFO Controversy"
edited by Rocky Wood. Wellington (New Zealand) : New Zealand UFO
Studies Centre, 1980. - 22 s. - (4th special issue)