Bright lights in the sky over New Zealand tonight were likely from a meteor, an expert says.

Skywatchers across the North Island reported a possible meteor or space junk sighting about 9pm. Sightings were reported around the country, from Whāngārei to Auckland, to Rotorua, the Hawke's Bay and Nelson.

Auckland Astronomical Society president Bill Thomas said he couldn't rule out the light coming from a falling satellite, but he thought it more likely the cause was a meteorite.

"There's a visible sort of tail, whereas a satellite [is] like a point of light moving across the sky ... bright [meteorites] like that one as not that common in the one place, but they're common worldwide."


Photos posted online showed a dazzling light in the sky.

The camera crew operating during tonight's Black Caps v Sri Lanka ODI at Mount Maunganui caught a glimpse.

The meteor was spotted on camera during the Black Caps v Sri Lanka ODI, while many sightings have been reported around NZ.
The meteor was spotted on camera during the Black Caps v Sri Lanka ODI, while many sightings have been reported around NZ.
Photo / Richard Kern
Photo / Richard Kern

Graham Billings was having dinner at an Italian restaurant in Whāngārei when he spotted something in the sky.

Billings said: "It was definitely a meteor. I wondered what it was for a bit but we can still see the smoke trail.''

May and Brian Seager happened to be looking up at the sky, discussing the dangers of drones, when they thought they spotted a drone.

"It just went whizzing by. It was a bright light and then it went green and left like a vapour trail.

"It was going way too fast [to be a drone] and it looked like it broke up into two pieces afterwards.''

The couple, who have been married for 30 years, said they felt lucky to have seen it together.


The Seagers were on Auckland's Tamaki Drive when they saw the meteor just before 9pm.

In Napier, Steve Bloor saw a spectacular display.

"It looked like a jet plane at first. and I thought I could see that. But then it broke up into a million pieces - like fireworks.''

Jen Maloney is in Whangamatā holidaying with friends.

She said she and six of her mates saw two displays in the sky tonight - one about 8.55pm and a second about 9.10pm.

"The first thing we saw was just beautiful and dramatic. It was green and looked like it was disintegrating off Waihī.''

Maloney described a second ball in the sky appearing about 9.10pm.

"It was red and looked like a solid ball. It was going in a different direction [to the first one] and it was glowing.''

She said afterwards, there was a "singe'' smell in the air.