A number of Tauranga residents are speculating that they saw a meteor over Mount Maunganui overnight.

However, a local astronomical expert says if it was, it would have been seen over a "very wide area", possibly the whole North Island.

A man posted on the Mount Maunganui noticeboard asking if anyone had seen a "big meteor" crash down directly north of Mount Maunganui at 1.34am today.

He said it lasted about three to five seconds and broke up into about half a dozen pieces.

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The post received quite a large response, with a couple people commenting that they had seen it and others speculating that it was a Chinese sattelite that was being deorbited.

Many thought it was likely space junk.

One woman wrote that she hoped it would crash into her work as she needed a day off.

David Grey from the Tauranga Astronomical Society said there were no matching satelitte decay reports in the system and he had not seen any reports of space junk in the area.

He said he could only conclude that it was a meteor, however if it was, it would have been sighted over a "very wide area" and not just locally.