It wasn't a bird, and it wasn't a plane.

When Tauranga man David Hill saw a tight formation of bright lights travelling across the sky last night, he wondered what the heck he was witnessing.

Hill had been inside his Maungatapu home when his 12-year-old grandson excitedly called him outside.

My grandson just rushed in saying 'poppa, poppa, come and see this'.


"I thought 'what the hell is outside' and looked up and thought 'what is this?'.

"Then we got nana out," he said.

"It looked like a whole lot of planes in line but they weren't flashing. I thought 'that's weird, why would you have a whole series of them altogether?'."

Satellites including a Starlink train can be viewed on interactive mapping sites. Image / Satflare
Satellites including a Starlink train can be viewed on interactive mapping sites. Image / Satflare

Hill gave the sighting more thought and realised the orbiting lights must have been satellites.

He saw about 10 passing across Orion's Belt. His grandson said he originally saw about 30.

"It was so interesting. I was a little excited about it. You just don't normally see a sight like that.

"Spacing would have been about the width of the Orion constellation and movement, luminosity and speed [was] very similar to the ISS," Hill said.

The series of satellites is believed to have been the second launch of a Starlink Satellite train.


It is understood the train was launched by SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, in November making its own system the largest commercial telecommunications satellite constellation in orbit.

No one from Tauranga Astronomical Society could be reached today but the group posted on Facebook page the Starlink Satellite train of satellites was passing over New Zealand about 10pm last night.

On the page, the society stated the satellites were "a spectacular sight to see" but could be problematic for astrophotography.

Pāpāmoa woman Megan Tietjen‎ said she saw 20 to 30 satellites pass above the clouds "all in a perfect straight line".

Others also commented that they saw the satellites, saying it was a "very cool" experience.

The satellite train passed from north-west to south-east.