USOs have been documented in NZ since 1909, when a small wingless object landed on a South Island lake.

New Zealand USO and Oceanic UFO Sightings


Sightings of USOs (unidentified submerged objects) in New Zealand date at least as far back as a sighting reported in July 1909, when a small wingless unconventional object was seen landing and taking off from Broken River, Canterbury, South Island, in a remote area.  The object was observed by a small group of witnesses periodically over several hours.

On 7 November 1957 at 22:40, near the small North Island rural town of Waiuku, an ovoid object was observed slowly circling a deep lake at low altitude, diving into the lake and re-emerging, before following the nearby Manukau Harbour coastline until it disappeared from view.

In the early sixties, my uncle was fishing on Tauranga Harbour at night when he and his fishing companion saw a large bright white light arcing down towards the harbour at speed.  As it neared the water in close proximity to their boat, the object slowed, the light dimmed and they were able to observe a disc-shaped metallic object with lights around the perimeter enter the water on an angle.  Both men expected the small dinghy to be swamped by the surge from the object, or much worse, however they stated the disc sliced cleanly into the water without even a ripple, and for a few seconds they could see the lights travelling along the deep harbour channel.

Following is a selection of some of UFOCUS NZ’s USO sightings and New Zealanders’ reports of UFOs sighted over the South Pacific Ocean.


South Pacific Ocean, November 1962

The reporting witness was onboard the MV Ngatoro in the South Pacific Ocean, about four days out from the Panama Canal, en route to Wellington, New Zealand.  They were about two days sailing past the Galapagos Islands on a southwesterly course, and steaming at about ten to twelve knots.

An object was sighted traveling from northwest to southeast, roughly in a line from Hawaii through to Peru.  The witness stated, “In other words…over a lot of empty ocean!”  The witnesses could not ascertain the distance to the object, but they had “a wonderful clear display of whatever it was.”

The witness stated, “It was 9.30 pm GMT, on a clear starry night.  When the sighting occurred I was on lookout above the wheelhouse with the Second Officer and another crew member.  One of the Officers looked at the unusual light configuration through binoculars, but did not comment whether there was a definite shape or if it was a single craft.  There was no sound.  It is difficult to say at that stage whether it was a single vehicle or a group in the night sky, but it had all the hallmarks of being one massive object, because the power source came from the outer extremities of a boomerang-shaped light configuration, and there was a fixed light at the leading edge.  The power source at these extremities left almost indelible bright “streams” or “contrails” of light across the sky from horizon to horizon, and took some five to ten minutes to dissipate.

Witness’s drawing

If it had been a conventional aircraft, then in relation to size, the spread of the power sources (engines) would have meant that it would have needed to be flying at mast height, and therefore deafening us with the noise from the engines.  If not a conventional aircraft, and if it were all one craft (a single object), then it was colossal!  The object took a full five minutes to go from first starboard sighting to our port side horizon.  There was silence, and the light emitted from directly behind the power source appeared effervescent before forming into a straight beam of light, which stretched across the entire sky.  It was awe inspiring!”

We didn’t record the sighting in the ship’s log as we thought that no one would ever believe us and we did not want to be the subjects of ridicule.  We knew there was a ship about 100 nautical miles to our starboard which we contacted by radio, but they did not report anything unusual.  I find it inconceivable that they didn’t see it – unless the lookout and officer were doing a crossword or something!  There was a feeling of euphoria after this sighting.  Personally, I could not sleep after I had finished my watch at 4.00am.  I immediately made a sketch of what I had seen, which I still have.

There was, I think, a nuclear test taking place at Wake Island at around that time, and I wondered at first if what we saw was some unknown Russian spy craft, but my knowledge of known spy craft, having been in the British Forces recent to the event, ruled this out. I am now 69 years old and I am sure my watch mate has died by now, as he was very much older than me.  I have often wondered about this event and it has stayed with me all these years” K.T.

South Pacific Ocean, 2005

“Hello UFOCUS NZ. I would like to report a sighting of unexplained lights that myself and two others saw late in 2005.  At the time I was a Deck Cadet working onboard the P&O Australia cruise ship the Pacific Sun; I was on the 2000 – 0000 watch and while heading from New Caledonia to Vanuatu I sighted a bright white light on the port quarter near or at sea level at night.  I called the Second Mate and helmsman over to have a look at it.  Neither of them had ever seen something like this and could not explain it (both the Second Mate and helmsman had been working on ships at sea for years. I had been cruising on our family yacht around the South Pacific regularly since I was about 6 years old). 

I viewed it through binoculars and could see the bright white light actually alternated between white and red, and the light also had smaller white lights around it which appeared to be flashing on and off randomly.  They were not in a ring or any specific shape, but were flashing in random places around the bright light. I could also see a squiggly white line of light going out to one of the lights that were flashing.  It extended from the bright light across to a dimmer light, and then disappeared and reappeared slightly further around the large bright light, continuously and in a clockwise direction.

The other two watch-keepers on the bridge also then looked through the binoculars and confirmed they saw the same thing I was seeing.  We watched it for about 20 minutes and during this time it would occasionally move up and down rapidly and then settle on the surface, remaining in one place again (there was not that much movement on the sea and we all agreed that this movement of the light was not due to the movement of our ship or the ocean).  During our time watching the light, it would also occasionally disappear into the water so we could not see any lights at all, and then it would reappear a few minutes later.  During these 20 minutes it slowly got dimmer and further away. I tried to capture it on my video camera but it did not emit enough light at that point to show up on the camera.”  S.F.


Wellington, NZ, 1969

Witness’s drawing

“Hi Suzanne. This is a historic sighting that I reported to the Carter Observatory in Wellington, NZ, at the time.

My fiancee and I were “parked up” in his car in a small bay between Houghton and Lyall Bays in Wellington.  It would have been around the year 1969, and it was a Friday night at around 9.00 pm.

We had the radio going and were sitting in the front seat of his car.  Suddenly out on the water, very close, there appeared a huge “flying saucer” – exactly the same as many illustrations.  It was shiny like stainless steel with a dome on top of the saucer, and with lights blinking around the saucer edge as well as around the base of the dome.  Underneath the craft were spotlights scanning across the water.  It was about the size of a house and silently hovered low over the water and very close to us.

As we watched, it moved towards us over the water; I screamed and my fiance shouted, “It’s coming towards us!  It’s honing in on the radio waves!”  Panicking, we switched off the radio and hid under the dash board!  About 30 seconds later we peeked up and the craft had stopped and was suspended in the air out in front of us.  It then moved backwards with a swooshing sound and was gone from view in a few seconds.

According to the Carter Observatory, residents of a house overlooking the water in the same bay reported a sighting of the disc rising out of the water as well.  Unfortunately the few people I have told over the years had trouble believing me, and my husband died several years ago.  The experience was so amazing that the memory of it has never faded.”  D.S.

Waihi Beach, NZ, March 2003

Artist’s impression

Two airline pilots were taking a late evening stroll along Waihi Beach, north of Tauranga, NZ, at around 11.30 pm, when they were surprised to see a large green light approaching over the sea from the direction of Mayor Island, low over the water’s surface and travelling at a speed they estimated at around 180 knots.  The object was completely surrounded by a distinctive bright green glow and was completely silent.  As it approached them they noticed that within the green glow were three bright lights forming a triangle, with the front light raised slightly higher than the other two.  The two pilots watched it approach to within 200 metres of the shore.

At this point the “machine” executed a right-angled turn by rotating (turning as on a pivot) instantly on a horizontal plane, rather than rolling and banking over a considerable distance, as an aircraft would do.  The pilots commented that they were amazed how controllable the “machine” was, and how it could manoeuvre in this way without making any sound at all. The witnesses could not make out any “body” or framework of the object, just the structure or position of the lights moving in unison, and the surrounding glow. The light/object proceeded parallel to the shoreline at around 100 knots, heading in the direction of Mount Maunganui on the Tauranga shoreline.  The two men watched the lights until they disappeared, with the duration of the whole sighting being around 40 seconds.  One of the pilots stated that he had been flying for 40 years and had never seen such an object like it before.  The other pilot had sighted UFOs before during his flying career.

Although this object cruised low over the sea, and was not seen to enter it, I have included it because this area between Mayor and Motiti Islands in the Bay of Plenty, NZ, has long been a “corridor” for UFO sightings, and incidentally, it corresponds with the late Captain Bruce Cathie’s UFO grid system, a planetary grid theory where UFO sightings relate to the magnetic grid of the planet.

March 2003 sighting by two pilots (private aircraft and airline pilot) off Waihi Beach, Western Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand

The Cathie Grid showing the Tauranga area at top right, where grid lines intersect offshore. From: The Bridge to Infinity – Harmonic 371244 by Bruce Cathie

Other major UFO sightings occurred in this same area in1995, including a sighting by an air traffic controller.  Visit UFOCUS NZ’s website links below to read about them:—Air-Traffic-Controller-Sights-UFO-With-Flaming-Trail/99.aspx

Aranga Beach, NZ, August 1974

Witness’s drawing

This sighting took place off the shore of Aranga Beach, Northland, in the early afternoon over a period of 20-30 minutes.  The visibility was excellent, with light wind and a light ocean swell.

Two witnesses were setting up a camping area in the sand-hills away from the beach.  One of the witnesses went down to the beach to dig shellfish for lunch, and out to sea at an estimated distance of 2 to 3 miles, he observed a large dark object protruding from the water, and there appeared to be several smaller “dots” flying around it.  The witness assumed these small objects were helicopters circling above an odd-looking ship or submarine, and described the accompanying “dots” or objects as looking like “gnats” in relation to the sheer size of the main object.

Witness’s drawing

After observing for a few minutes, he returned to the camp to tell his companion about this unusual sight, and then returned to the beach to watch.  By now, the objects he had assumed to be helicopters were no longer visible anywhere in the sky.  To his astonishment, the large object he thought was a ship or submarine began to rise from its position in the water and hovered stationery for a minute or two, well above the surface of the water.

The object then continued climbing until the witness saw a “glint” from a higher altitude directly above the original spot the object had first emerged from the sea, followed by a “streak” as the object disappeared at a phenomenal speed at a 90° angle to the west.  The second witness came down to the beach in time to see the residual “streak” in the sky as the object disappeared at speed.


 Kaipara Harbour, NZ, January 1965

 On January 12, 1965, a DC-3 transport plane took off from Whenuapai Airport, Auckland, on a flight to Kaitaia.  As the twin-engine propeller plane flew over Kaipara Harbour, a broad estuary 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Auckland, the pilot, Captain Bruce Cathie, spotted an unusual gleam in the water below.

He was about 1/3 of the way across Kaipara Harbour, and he at first believed the object to be stranded grey-white whale in an estuary.  As he veered his DC-3 for a closer look at the object, it became evident to him that he was observing an unknown metallic structure of some sort.

Captain Cathie noted that the object was perfectly streamlined and symmetrical in shape.  It had no visible external control surfaces or protrusions, and appeared metallic with the suggestion of a cap, hatch, or dome on top.  It was resting on the bottom of the estuary at a depth of no more than 30 feet of water.  It was not shaped like a normal submarine, but was approximately 100 feet in length with an approximate diameter of 15 feet at its widest part.

After he filed his flight report, the Royal New Zealand Navy told Captain Cathie it would have been impossible for any known model of submarine to have been in that particular area, due to the configuration of harbour and coastline.  Captain Cathie believed the only way the object could have entered the harbour was from the sky.

Suzy Hansen © 2019