A blazing object which lit up the sky over Canterbury on Monday night was probably a plane, not a meteor, experts say.

The orange object was seen heading west over North Canterbury, accompanied by a loud noise.

In Sefton, just north of Kaiapoi, the Coster family heard a "massive kind of rumble", or "sonic boom", just after 6pm on Monday, Stuff reported.

Amanda Coster said when the family looked out the window they saw an object "burning up and coming down" in the sky, heading northwest towards Mt Grey.

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Coster thought it was a meteor, with an "orange glow to it" and leaving a long trail, Stuff reported.

Video captured by Lindsay Williams near Oxford showed a single long trail of smoke with a bright orange object near the horizon, suggesting that it was falling to Earth.

The object seen over North Canterbury on Monday night. Photo / Lindsay Williams
The object seen over North Canterbury on Monday night. Photo / Lindsay Williams

But Stardome astronomy educator Josh Kirkley said the photos looked exactly like condensation trails, or "contrails", left by aircraft.

"We have had these things happen quite often," he said. "It always seems to be around sunset. People think it looks like a meteor."

Stardome says the
Stardome says the "meteor" trail looked exactly like aircraft contrails, seen here over Ireland. Photo / File

He said a real meteor, such as a 20-metre-diameter object that hit Russia in 2013, looked like a fireball and would have caused a lot of damage when it landed.

"If that was the case, I think we would have expected to see huge damage," he said.

The meteor that hit Russia in 2013 looked like a giant fireball. Photo / Wikipedia
The meteor that hit Russia in 2013 looked like a giant fireball. Photo / Wikipedia

Airways NZ head of public affairs Emily Davies said Airways had had no reports of meteors being seen by any pilots or control towers on Monday.