New Zealand has had a significant number of sightings of both cigar-shaped, and more recently, cylinder-shaped UFOs or UAP. Notably, several of these reports were made by pilots or airport employees. Up until 1978 at least, most of these reports described highly reflective silver cigar-shaped objects with “windows”, however more recent reports have described white windowless cylindrical objects with blunt ends, rather like pipes or cardboard tubes, and with “neon” light strips.
1952 – Silver Cylindrical Object with Windows
On a cloudless summer evening two witnesses were driving along a main road on the edge of the Waitemata Harbour, Auckland city, North Island. It was around 8 pm, just on sunset. In the first few seconds of the sighting the passenger, on the seaward side of the car, assumed she was observing an amphibious aircraft as the object was so close to the water.
That impression soon changed when she observed more details of the strange object without wings or tail, and she shouted to the driver to pull the car over to the side of the road and watch. They both witnessed the object’s sudden vertical take-off and eventual disappearance, all without any sound. The witnesses decided to return to the city and report the incident to the New Zealand Herald newspaper. They discovered the staff treated the report as a joke however one staff member told them theirs was the eighth report of a UFO to the Herald that evening. A small article about the sightings appeared in the Herald the next day.
The sighting lasted about 15 seconds as the witnesses watched the object cross Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour from north to southeast – fast moving, silent and close to the water. Without change to the object’s horizontal attitude, the UFO suddenly shot up vertically in a precise 90 degree direction change and was lost from view in seconds.
The object was a highly reflective “cigar” shape, tapered at the rear end, with a slight bulge on the upper nose, but no forward facing windows. Around seven distinctive “windows” were spaced long the length of the object, emitting dazzling multi-coloured light (mainly yellow, red and blue). The “windows” appeared to be square with rounded corners similar in shape to early TV screens. A bluish coloured vapour cloud extended at the rear of the object, approximately a third of the length of the UFO, and blasted out of the tapered tail with some force. The tapered tail had no visible end, as it was obscured by the vapour emission.
1965 – Unidentified Submerged Object (USO) spotted by DC-3 Pilot
On January 12, 1965, a DC-3 transport plane took off from Whenuapai Airport, Auckland, on a routine daytime flight north to the township of Kaitaia. As the twin-engine propeller plane flew over the 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 the Kaipara Harbour, and he at first believed the object to be a 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 a metallic structure of some sort.
Capt. 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. The object 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 which mentioned the sighting of the object, the Royal New Zealand Navy told Captain Cathie that 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.
The late Captain Bruce Cathie became a prominent figure in early New Zealand UFO research. He published several books on his theory of a global harmonic grid system which he believed was utilised by UFOs travelling within our atmosphere.
1971 – Airport Employee Photographs UFO?
On June 14 1971, an airport employee took a photograph of a light aircraft at Auckland Airport, North Island. He did not notice or hear anything unusual at the time but when the film was developed, he saw there was a cigar-shaped object in the distant background, which left a dark trail behind it.
The employee sent the photograph to retired Captain Bruce Cathie, who confirmed nothing unusual had appeared on Auckland Airport ATC radar that day. The employee had four photographic enlargements made showing the object, and also drew sketches of the object using a grid enlargement.
The cigar-shaped object appears to have a pointed nose and rounded end and the body of the object has distinct alternating bands of dark and light.
In 2005 the image was examined by a photographic data analyst who commented it reminded him of the renowned “ghost rockets” of 1946. He stated:
“Assuming a shutter speed of 1/25 of a second (typical), this thing moved its length in much less than that. If one assumes the object is the striped “rocket”, it moved about 10 times its own length in fact. If the fuzzy widening line at the upper left is a contrail, then that contrail widened very rapidly. If it is a real object “out there”, we don’t know how far away or how big. One can only speculate. If we assumed a rocket 20 foot long, then it traveled at 200 feet in 1/25 of a second, or 17,000 mph. At that speed, if it were low in the atmosphere, it would be glowing (if it were a man-made/earthly object or meteor). There is a very dim possibility that it is a meteor or a (man-made) rocket, but they would have made a noise.”
The close-up images bear a resemblance to the object in the 1952 sighting described above, including the slight “blip” on the nose and the tail end obscured by a smoky trail or vapour.
1977 – Piper Cherokee Pilot observes UAP in Close Proximity to F27 Fokker Friendship
This sighting occurred on July 1, 1977 at 2.10 pm, near Temuka, South Canterbury, in the South Island and lasted around 15 seconds. The pilot, M. Aronsen, was on a short flight in the vicinity of Temuka when he observed a UFO. He was aware of an F27 (Fokker Friendship) transport aircraft in the area inbound to Christchurch Airport and had heard the local air traffic service advise the F27, that a Cessna 180 was northbound in the area. The pilot was at an altitude of approximately 7,500 feet AMSL, and he could see the F27 on long finals about 5 miles northwest of Temuka, at an estimated altitude of 2,000 feet, about 1 mile west of his position.
His attention was captured by what he at first thought to be the C180 in close proximity to the F27. However, upon closer observation he realized the F27 was being followed by a UFO that was positioned to the starboard rear and slightly above the F27 at a distance of approximately 400 metres. It was maintaining position at an estimated altitude of 1,800 to 2,000 feet.
Pilot Aronsen observed a black cigar-shaped object about 10 to 15 metres in length. It was enveloped in a “heat haze” (shimmering air) and Aronsen estimated it was travelling at approximately 110 kmh (then later to an unknown speed). Upon realizing the object was not a conventional aircraft the pilot turned his aircraft towards the object and commenced a dive to intercept it, reaching maximum airframe speed in doing so. At this point the UFO stopped dead and hovered for approximately 2 seconds, before reversing its course when the pilot began his dive to investigate. It then accelerated sharply away with a rate of climb and acceleration far in excess of anything the pilot had seen before, and the object was lost to sight in about five seconds.
1978 – Air New Zealand DC 10-30 Near-Collision with UFO
In September 1978, Captain George Richardson was co-pilot of a New Zealand DC 10-30, over the Pacific Ocean just north of Samoa. The air conditions were stable with some flat stratus cloud. Some stars were visible, but no moon. Capt. Richardson described the night as “pitch black, very dark”, but recalls they may have had the small aircraft nose light on. He stated the aircraft was “skipping along over the strata-form”. He was looking directly ahead out the cockpit window when he noticed a very bright white light rapidly approaching above the clouds and stated, “Traffic on our left,” to the Captain.
The light was moving west to east and crossed the DC10’s track from left to right at the same level as the aircraft. The object crossed their path at close proximity directly in front of them – around 150 feet apart and for a few seconds, the pilots believed they were going to collide with it. The sighting of first a light, and then the object, lasted a full ten seconds, 3-4 seconds of which they were at close proximity and able to witness details. They observed a large cigar-shaped object around 150 feet long. The object had large oval windows around 3 feet wide evenly spaced along the length of it, which were emitting harsh bright white light. There were no appendages such as wings, tail, or rudder, and it appeared to be a solid metallic structure. The object was roughly the size and shape of a DC10-30 fuselage, without the wings and tail. The front had a rounded point, while the rear 1/3 of the object tapered off to a narrow end. It is significant that the object left no turbulent wake. The pilots estimated it was travelling in excess of 500 knots (575 mph, or 926 kmh), and it disappeared out on the starboard side behind them.
The pilots immediately contacted Nadi Airport (Fiji) after the incident was to establish if any aircraft were in their vicinity, then Tahiti Airport radio and asked if they had any inbound traffic from the west, both replies were negative. Honolulu Airport radio also confirmed there were no military or other aircraft near their flight position. At the time the object was sighted, because of the speed it approached and close proximity of the object as it passed in front of their aircraft, both pilots were so certain a collision would occur and no evasive action was taken.
2014 – Daytime Sighting of White Cylindrical Object, possible contact event
On 6 January 2014, the witness was travelling on a highway towards Muriwai Beach, on the coast west of Auckland city. It was mid-morning, and she was on her way to the beach for exercise. As she rounded a corner, she came across six cars travelling slowly, with the occupants watching the sky. All the cars pulled over to observe a large bright white cylindrical object with blunt ends, hovering in the blue sky. A seventh car arrived from the other direction, and the driver took a series of photos. The object changed position and moved over the Kaipara Harbour. The witness stated she and the others watched the object for what seemed like only a few seconds, but the time on her own cell-phone photos (all of which were blurry) indicated they observed the object for four minutes. At that point the object simply “disappeared”. It made no sound, and there were no wings, tail or windows. She estimated it was 4 or 5 times larger than a large aircraft.
The event took on a strange aspect when the witness reached the beach, because she later realised that by then she had instantly “forgotten” about the object immediately following the event. There was nobody else at the beach and as she started walking she had “the strangest feeling” that she had been walking for several hours, to the extent that she had to keep checking the time on her watch. Having walked some distance for over an hour, she saw a strange “mound” of mist covering the beach from the sand hills to the sea, and she began to feel odd, as if she was slightly dizzy and elated, not fully in control of her senses. The last thing she recalled was seeing what she thought were figures emerging from the mist and moving towards her. She does not remember what happened next at that point, but her next recollection was of finding herself crouched up in the sand hills. Now thirsty, afraid, and in an upset state, she walked briskly back towards the car park, and was relieved to see a family there.
2014 – Daytime Sighting of White Cylindrical Object
In November 2014, a witness in Hamilton, North Island observed a bright white cylindrical object slowly traversing the sky on a north to south track. It was estimated the object was at an altitude of some 2000-3000 feet, and had a speed slower than that of a light aircraft. What caught the witness’s attention was that the object was transiting in a straight line, rather than a slight parabolic line as would be expected of an aircraft flying a similar track, and that its brilliancy did not change throughout the sighting.
At its closest point, the object was at an estimated of 3-4 km. The witness could clearly discern the object’s cylindrical shape against the blue sky, and the fact that it had a thin bright vertical strip of light at mid-point. It had no wings, tail, or any other aircraft-type appendages or lights, and no associated sound. It was lost from view due to diminishing in size while still on the straight flight path.
2015 © Suzanne Hansen, UFOCUS NZ Research Network
- Dickeson, (the late) Fred and Phyllis, ‘Xenolog’ Magazine, Summer Edition 1978
- 1952 report and painting by G. Meeson
- UFOCUS NZ archive and interviews