Two friends had a close encounter tonight with what is believed to have been a meteor that lit up skies up the North Island just before 10 o'clock on Wednesday night.
In Mount Maunganui, the event was initially thought of as 'lightning'.
Flashes that lit up the sky and sonic booms were reported around the North Island. Auckland Civil Defence and Emergency Management's Twitter page said it was most likely a meteor.
Fletcher Hodge, 33, and Michael Mckee, 30, were travelling from Rotorua to Hamilton having purchased a possum plucker off TradeMe when they noticed the sky getting "bluer and brighter".
View video footage of the meteor caught on dashboard camera in Tauranga below.
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Mr Hodge, 33, said he looked out the driver's side of the vehicle they were travelling in to view what he thought was a shooting star.
"The next minute it was practically at the right hand side... like only 200-300 metres away. It came in slow then sped up. There were big bright blue flashes and then it went straight down into a gully," said Mr Hodges.
"I was quite freaked out. I was like, what the hell... this is the end. I've seen shooting stars and comets break up but I have never been so close in my life. It was like looking out at a street light from your house and it looked closer than a street light."
The pair pulled over near an effluent dump, located near the "Hobbiton turn off" and said they heard a person "come roaring around" on a motorbike.
They were joking about cashing in on the find, and Mr Hodges suggested he should mark the location in his smartphone's GPS.
"The timing was impeccable," said Mr Hodge. "If we'd been a couple of minutes earlier we would have seen it shoot past us... this big blue flame for a short while going straight down with a trail of looked like what sky rockets let off and that stayed in sky for about 10 seconds."
The pair didn't hear a bang to indicate the meteorite landed but because they were still driving at the time they say they may not have felt that.
Mr Mckee was driving when he saw "the really bright light."
"I could see the whole countryside. I saw a streak in the sky and bits of like fireworks but thought it was too bright to be fireworks. It didn't hit me till after that it was cosmic. I've never seen anything like it in my life."
He said the light seemed to head on into a gully.
"I think it landed pretty close to us. It was almost blinding."
Mr Mckee said he has no idea the sighting over the North Island skies had gone viral on social media.
Karin Roussenq in Mt Maunganui described a trail of light, similar to a comet's tail, streaking across the sky.
"I was watching TV and I saw that light, which seemed to be lightning. Then I saw that golden light across the sky -- like a tail of a comet -- and something falling down like burning up, bright."
WeatherWatch.co.nz, which has a dedicated meteors page, received dozens of comments.
"This was an exceptionally bright flash of light across the country, with many people saying they heard sonic booms that scared them and the animals," head weather analyst Philip Duncan said.
David Britten, astronomy educator at Auckland's Stardome, said witness reports were consistent with meteoritic material or space rocks entering the atmosphere.
"It's interesting that this has been seen in multiple places, which seems to show that it's some sort of bunch of material that's entered the atmosphere."
The Fire Service said it received multiple calls but there were no reports of fire. Police received 70 to 80 calls.