Lower North Island residents' Thursday was interrupted by a fireball in the sky as hundreds reported seeing a potential meteor crashing to Earth.
Residents took to social media to ask if others also saw "the sky falling", many in disbelief.
A loud bang and rumbling noises were heard, and many suspected it was an earthquake.
The sound was heard in the Wellington and Wairarapa regions.
"I could hear my house shaking like it was an earthquake but the ground didn't actually move," one person commented on a Facebook post.
Others said that their windows shook violently or that they thought it was an explosion close by.
Vanessa Judd, from Masterton, says she initially thought it was something much more sinister because of the "sheer volume of the noise and the way it shook the ground".
"My entire house was shaking, I thought a truck had driven into the side of my house or maybe a transformer box."
She says it was "one of the most bizarre experiences" of her life.
Some describe seeing a "bright flash of light" in the sky during the loud noise, some saying it had a long tail, others saying it was a "giant fireball".
Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said it could be "a number of things": "Either a re-entering satellite or potentially a meteoroid, which is a space rock coming through the Earth's atmosphere and surviving its passage.
"If you've got video or photographs of the event it's important to keep them, as we might be able to use them to triangulate the position of the thing, and where it landed - if it did land.
"It may be quite scientifically important to retrieve this thing. Meteorites in this country are quite rare so actually getting one would be quite cool."