A local astronomer has called a meteor that lit up Bay of Plenty skies last night "the most spectacular" he had ever seen.

The Tauranga Astronomical Society's David Greg said the meteor that flew over the region at around 6.30pm yesterday was the brightest and longest-lasting he had seen.

Greg said he had been watching the sky for more than 40 years, but this one was "the most spectacular meteor I have ever seen."

A meteor has been defined as a small body of matter from outer space that enters the earth's atmosphere.

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The society held their public meeting at 6pm last night at the Matua observatory, using their telescopes to look at Saturn and Jupiter.

Greg said he heard children from a nearby Scouts group saying "wow, look at that" and as he looked up, he saw the "very bright and persistent meteor" crossing the sky.

He said it was travelling north to south and was at an altitude angle of 45 degrees.

He compared it to looking like a firework, bright and orange in colour with sparks coming off the end of it.

The meteor lasted longer than anyone he had ever seen, lighting up the sky for around 14 seconds, he said.

"One [a meteor] like this is quite rare."

There was speculation that what was seen was a rocket from a moon mission that launched from India yesterday.

However, Greg said he was fairly certain that there was no link between the two.

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Taupō resident Marty Day said he was outside doing a small bonfire last night when he saw the meteorite cross the sky.

He said it was bright orange-white thing with a tail trail.

It was not a huge deal to him though, as he said Taupō did not have as much light pollution as some of the big centres so he sees astronomical wonders fairly often.

He said he was surprised how far across the country it was seen, which made him think it must have been quite high up in the atmosphere.

Tauranga resident Theresa O'Reilly said she had taken a group of scouts children to the Matua observatory to learn about the moon landing when they saw the bright light cross the sky.

She said she had "never seen one so big and so low".

The children, aging between 6 and 8 years old, were excited, with one saying "I can't wait to tell my teacher about this tomorrow."

She said it was such a great thing for the children to witness.

Residents from Taupō, Rotorua and Tauranga had all reported seeing it, including some as far as Auckland.