This encounter occurred in the early hours of Monday, 12 December 2011, in the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges, Bay of Plenty region, North Island, New Zealand.
A group of three men, John, Andrew, and ‘Lewis’ (not his real name), had been hunting and were returning to their vehicle through scrubland and bush when the event occurred. A fourth witness (W4), Andrew’s 12-year-old son, had accompanied them, but the article will focus on the experiences of the three adults.
John and Andrew are experienced hunters, while Lewis had never previously been out hunting. John has hunted on the family-owned land where the sighting occurred since childhood and is familiar with the distinct sights, sounds, and smells of New Zealand bush, as is Andrew. The group had one rifle with them. The weather was cloudy with rain and drizzle, but the outlines of surrounding hills were visible against the sky. The duration of the event was up to one hour.
AN ORANGE LIGHT APPEARS
Andrew indicates the hill the hunters sat on to watch the light
At around 3 AM, the hunters were returning through scrubland, around 3.5 km from where their vehicle was parked in a farm paddock. They stopped to rest on a low hill where pine trees had been clear-felled, enabling them to have uninterrupted views over the surrounding area. John noticed an orange light in the distance (around 4-5 km away) and alerted the rest of the group to it in case it was another hunter. The light was moving over paddocks on the side of a familiar landmark hill and they decided to sit down, turn off their torch and observe its movements, with their safety in mind.
The men later described how the light would hover, zigzag sharply, swing from side to side like a pendulum, move across the side of the hill at speed and come to a sudden stop, and perform an unusual ‘square’ movement (which we later established was the light rising, passing over and down the other side of a line of pine trees).
At this point the group carried out an ‘escalation of hypotheses’, a term used by the late Dr J. Allen Hynek, US astrophysicist and UFO researcher, to describe how a witness to an unexpected UFO event will take a simple guess first as to what they are observing. As they struggle to find the right ‘box’ to put the event in, they may upgrade this guess several times, seeking natural or logical explanations first before considering any explanation beyond that. The hunters guessed the light could be a farm vehicle or a motorbike, but they struggled to comprehend what it would be doing on the hillside at that hour of the morning, moving so speedily and erratically. Initially they did not take into account the relative size of the light in relation to the distance, which would have indicated a large light source. Andrew used the rifle scope to look at the light and thought he could make out a triangular shape within the glow, and two large white lights like car headlights or spotlights, however within a second or two of him observing it, the light disappeared, as if ‘switched off ‘. During this time they also spotted small white lights in the valley below which Lewis described as, “like looking at cars going across (the road) from a distance, but it was four in the morning, and 45 minutes away from the city. There was no sound. We were trying to make sense of it.”
The group watched the orange light for some twenty minutes with a growing sense of disquiet, which turned to alarm when they saw the light speed down the hill, before moving more slowly across the valley in their direction. At this point they noticed everything around them became ‘darker’ (an unusual aspect described by the two fishermen who featured in Part One of this article in the previous edition of UFO Truth Magazine). The rain and wind suddenly ceased, and the moreporks (native owls) and other wildlife fell instantly silent. This seemed eerie to the men, who considered hiding over the brow of the hill to see if the light would depart, but opted to continue making their way down to the safety of their vehicle.
John: “We thought, oh! Time to leave boys! We didn’t stick around! We started moving, rushing down (the hill). I couldn’t see and was falling over.”
It was a hasty eight minute walk downhill to the first gate, from where the farm track (normal road width) passed through bush for another 3 km towards a country road. The orange light could be seen several hundred metres away moving slowly over the farmland at or above ground level, before the hunters lost sight of it as they entered the bush. The group could now see its considerable size and they all commented the light moved as if it was “searching for something”. Assessing the situation again, they guessed it must be a large vehicle and overlooked any indicators that might discount this assumption.
A RED ‘SCANNING’ LIGHT
Farm road through the bush. The orange light was seen periodically through the trees on the left.
Having reached the relative safety of the bush the group stopped to catch their breath. By now they were panicking and Andrew’s young son was fearful, asking his father what the orange light was, Andrew replying they did not know yet. Within seconds, John saw a dim orange glow behind the trees on their left around 80 m away, and alerted the others to it. All four now noticed a peculiar odour in the air associated with the light’s appearance, which John described as smelling like rotten eggs and Lewis described as like burnt pork. Again, the group considered the unlikely scenario it could be another hunter’s torch and decided to press on down the track and as they did so, the light ‘went out’.
Some 100 m further on, the orange glow reappeared among the trees just below treetop height, much closer to the hunters now at around 15 m away, close enough to cast light on trees on the right hand side of the track. John was startled to see a ‘U-shaped’ intensely vivid red strand of light moving among the trees, ahead of the orange glow. He described the red light-strand as being similar to the red scanning light one might see at a supermarket checkout, used to scan bar codes. John felt whatever the orange light was, it seemed to be tracking their position, and not wishing to frighten the rest of the group he urged them to keep moving. They all later described how the “adrenaline was pumping” and they were half-walking, half-running, stumbling side-by-side periodically checking with each other that they were doing okay. The lights ‘flicked off’ again. The group reached a halfway point some 1.50 km from the hilltop where they had first seen the light. They did not use their torch to light the way in case it attracted attention to them.
The boys and I were coming up on the track and we just focused on the ground. It was pitch dark, a little bit of wind and the moreporks were going crazy calling again and it started raining again at that point too, after the light went out. We didn’t feel safe. We all had that ‘flutter’, that feeling something was not quite right.
The hunters walked another 100 m or so, reaching a place where the track was slightly elevated above farm paddocks on their left, with low scrub and a number of tall pine trees on the edge of the bank. On their right was a steep bank covered with bushes.
John indicates the position where the craft appeared beside the track, behind the small punga tree. His hand shows the relative height of the craft.
CLOSE PROXIMITY TO A CRAFT
At this higher point of the track there was a 4 m gap on their left between the trees, and the men now saw the orange light with red light-strand emitting from it in the paddock next to them, now some 60 m away.
John: We thought, what the hell is that? And within a split second it was right alongside the fence line only 5 m away from us!
The men were stunned by the speed at which the light approached them and came to a dead-stop. The orange light had now diminished entirely, revealing a circular, roughly cone-shaped craft without windows, which all three witnesses described as bigger than a single garage, and as high. It hovered 30-50 cms above the ground at eye-level. The surface appeared metallic and highly reflective and John could recall seeing the surrounding trees mirrored on its surface giving it a dark green appearance. The top of the craft was flat and large distinct coloured lights – orange/red, green, blue, yellow and white – sat atop the object, flashing randomly. Andrew remembered the lights being in ‘tiers’. There were several small orange lights around the bottom of the craft and two large extremely bright white spotlights, like car headlights, were recessed into the side of the object (these light configurations and colours match those described by the two fishermen in Part One of this article).
John’s illustration of the craft.
An anomaly all three witnesses noticed about the flashing lights was that although they were bright, they did not radiate outwards much onto the surrounding bush. The craft made no sound as it hovered close to the group but the red light-strand made a ticking sound as it moved outwards in front of the craft a couple of times, and then the craft moved forward where the light-strand had been, hence their description of a ‘scanning light’.
John: I said to the boys, are you seeing what I’m seeing? I could hear them breathing heavily right behind me and we were just staring at the thing! It stayed there for a good 10 seconds, then the red (scanning) light went out and it reversed!
The craft moved down the fence line and within a few metres, the lights ‘went out’. At this point John reported feeling unusually calm and relaxed – an incongruous reaction to the unfolding traumatic event. The other three witnesses felt fear and concern for their safety, but also relief it had gone. They all noticed for a second time that while the craft was close-by, the rain and wind ceased, and the birds and wildlife fell silent, described by Lewis as “surreal and scary”.
But their relief was short-lived when a couple of seconds later, the craft reappeared around 150 m away, turning right and moving steadily up the farm track towards the group, now making a noise “like a vacuum cleaner” and effectively blocking their escape route. Partway, it silently hovered momentarily, before moving again at speed towards the group.
Andrew’s drawing of the craft.
Pandemonium broke loose as a number of frightening scenarios ran through the hunters’ minds. John, Lewis and Andrew’s son threw themselves to the right into the bushes, flattening themselves against the bank, Lewis with his arms around W4’s body to protect him. Andrew placed the gun on the ground, fumbled to turn off the light on his cell phone and leapt after them however, he tripped and found himself directly in the path of the craft which came to within 15 m of the group.
Andrew: I was looking up at it as it was approaching. I remember seeing coloured light on the road, but the mass of bright white light (from the ‘headlights’) was what stuck in my head because of the fact it was so close. I was actually wondering whether to run back up the road, but it would have seen me so I said to the others, just stay there! Don’t move! Everybody was freaking out. I couldn’t help but think: what will it do if it sees me? Will it attack? Will it take us?
The red light-strand began operating again with a clicking sound and Andrew was terrified he would come in contact with this beam. John thrust his head forward, but could only see the flashing lights. W4, believing his father was in danger, cried out to his father that he loved him. Andrew turned momentarily towards his son and when he looked back to the craft, its lights had gone out and within a split second it reappeared some 350 m distant across the country road, lights on again, moving slowly over a paddock. Immediately, the wildlife resumed night-calling and the rain fell.
ENCOUNTER WITH A NON-HUMAN ENTITY
The group decided to make a run for it, huddling together and quickly covering the remaining 250 m, jumping a locked gate and making their way out onto the country road. As they passed over the two spots where the craft had hovered, they were aware of the unpleasant smell again. They could see the craft as it moved beyond a rise in the paddock and disappeared. Andrew’s son was crying and distressed and he and the boy headed right down the road towards where their vehicle was parked, while John brought up the rear with Lewis in between.
But as I was walking down (some 20 m beyond the gate) I saw this glow. It was up high at first, that’s what drew me to it because nothing is that tall! And I was thinking, what the hell is that? I called the boys back.
A vertical bright white light, shaped like a tiny rugby ball around 10-15 cm long was slowly descending from a height of about 3.5 m, around 8-10 m away from John in the paddock on his left. At around 1.5 m above the ground the light became stationary.
John indicates the position where the entity was standing, near where the author is standing.
Andrew: There was something over there and we all stopped to look at it. I remember the panic. The gun was on my shoulder, and as I was turning around I was bumping into the guys with the gun, lucky the safety catch was on! Everyone was saying, look! Look! My son was pulling me, crying and saying, Dad let’s go, so I took him off down the road. I left the other two boys standing there.
The light began swaying slightly which we later ascertained could have been the movement of the entity walking towards John and Lewis to a distance of around 4 m from them. John turned on his powerful spotlight, revealing a humanoid figure. The small bright light was positioned on its forehead, preventing John from seeing its eyes, nose and mouth. John described the head as having a long rectangular appearance and there were dark ‘smudges’ or shadows on its cheeks. The figure appeared to be naked with pale grayish-white skin, mottled grey patches, and pink shading like a mass of blood vessels around the rib area, shoulders and chin. Only the head, arms and torso from abdomen level upwards were visible and we later established the position where the entity had been standing, with its lower body and legs obscured by low gorse bushes.
John’s drawing of the small light he initially saw floating down from treetop height, and the entity he saw when he shone his spotlight.
The entity was unfazed by the bright spotlight and began moving its upper body and head from side to side and up and down, in a probable attempt to see past the light. Lewis was afraid of provoking the creature, while John felt inexplicably drawn to it and began climbing the fence to have a better look at it. Fearing for their safety, Lewis pulled John back and they ran down the road after the others. On the way, John stopped to shine the spotlight through a gap in the hedge and the entity was still there, looking in their direction, but by the time the group reached the car and shone the spotlight again, there was no sign of the entity.
All four witnesses sat in the car for a short time, doors locked, trying to make sense of what they had experienced and asking each other to confirm aspects of the encounter. Shock set in and Andrew started the vehicle and left the area at speed – and as John said: “Everyone’s heads were swiveling, looking behind us!”
REACTIONS TO THE EVENT
All three adult witnesses were able to describe similar details, but they also individually focused on certain aspects. When interviewed they exhibited signs of post-trauma: hyper-arousal, re-experiencing, and forms of denial or disconnection, referring to both the object and entity as ‘it’. They spoke of reassuring one another throughout the event and repeatedly asked each other to validate what they were seeing as ‘real’. Each reported fear and panic at the time of the experience, and during the interviews there was evidence of nervousness, stress and fear while describing the events. The men talked of trying to make sense of what was happening at the time by rationalising from their own worldview, attempting to cling to logical viewpoints to maintain some control over the situation (eg. looking for windows, doors, wheels etc.) There was a distinct loss of safety and security with fear, shock, alarm response, checking behaviours and disbelief. Their descriptions illustrated an abnormal situation which precipitated a flight response and concerns for safety.
John’s reactions alternated between fear, curiosity and excitement. Like the other two hunters, he initially tried to find a logical and familiar explanation for the unusual light, but after seeing the red scanning light he was quickly convinced they were looking at something that was “not of this world”. As an experienced hunter he also felt responsible for the safety of the rest of the group. When the craft pulled alongside the bank next to them he was the only one who felt excitement along with fear, followed by an incongruous sense of relaxation, or what he described as “la-la land”, that is, until the craft backed off and proceeded up the track towards them at speed. John reacted similarly when he saw the entity, feeling drawn to it as if there was a mutual desire to communicate in some way (as experienced by Toby in Part One of this article). He retained clear details of the craft and entity and could recall exact places on the farm track where certain aspects of the encounter occurred, possibly also due to his familiarity with the property. During interviews John divulged memories of seeing similar entities throughout his life, and his wife and mother confirmed this, and the fact he still has drawings of them he did as a child. (Later, in 2012, John investigated this through regression with a registered clinical hypnotherapist.)
Andrew focused on safety, in particular, concern for his son and firearm safety. His descriptions of the events were in clear chronological order and contained considerable sensory perceptions such as odours, awareness of rainfall and the behaviour of birds and animals. Undoubtedly because he was the one closest to the craft and its scanning light, Andrew suffered physical and psychological effects from the traumatic event: nausea, re-experiencing, and hyper vigilance. For several days afterwards, the volume of his television increased when he walked past it and household lights brightened when he walked underneath them. His own safety was most at risk and shock set in when he finally reached the car.
It was Lewis’s first time out hunting and throughout the event he felt reliant on the experience of John and Andrew to maintain his safety, expressing in his interview the extreme fear he felt when he realized that even John, as an experienced hunter, was also afraid. Lewis stressed he is a logical thinker and he repeatedly tried to make sense of the lights and later the craft, in terms of a farm vehicle. Even when he was confronted by a nonconventional vehicle he clung to the possibility it might still be a police car, or criminals who might hunt them down or harm them. Lewis had the greatest difficulty recalling details but showed a higher level of emotional arousal and a marked degree of ‘survival mode’. He feared John “might provoke the entity”, but has ‘blanked out’ all memory of what it looked like. Lewis is Tongan and a Christian and his perceptions of what he experienced were influenced by cultural and religious views. After the event he feared his family would reject his experience, but he was surprised to find they were actually interested and supportive. This gave him confidence and he has discovered other people in his church and community have had UFO sightings and now consider him a ‘safe’ person to talk to about them.
UFOCUS NZ asked a clinical psychologist to view and assess the video interviews. She stated in her report: “In my opinion, the three interviewed individuals each displayed and reported behaviours indicative/similar to post traumatic stress. They were unable to clear their heads of the unpredictable and inexplicable experience. I believe these men witnessed a life-changing event, feared for their lives and will remember the experience for the rest of their lives.”
INTERVIEWS / SITE EXAMINATION
UFOCUS NZ carried out individual video interviews with John and Andrew within two days of receiving the sighting report, however Lewis was not interviewed until February, as he was at first reluctant to be interviewed and then travelled overseas.
Following the sighting event, the Bay of Plenty region experienced severe storms throughout December and New Year and consequently we were unable to gain permission to visit the site until early January. By this time the farm track had been spread with shells (used on muddy farm tracks in NZ) and the bush-covered bank where the witnesses hid from the oncoming craft had been scraped bare by machinery. There was grass growth in the areas where the craft had hovered close to the witnesses and where they observed the entity, and there were no obvious ground markings to be seen. We reached no conclusion about what the small lights in the valley could have been. As with the fishermen’s sightings described in Part One, the craft may have been attracted to the bright spotlight the men initially used when hunting.
UFOCUS NZ investigators accompanied both John and Andrew (individually) to the location to retrace their experience over the 3.5 km distance. Both men independently identified the places on the track where particular activity had occurred and emotionally relived the event. Lewis has yet to return to the location and stated when he does, it will be in daylight.
By Suzanne Hansen
Copyright © 2013