Multiple similar UFO sightings culminate in two spectacular sightings at sea, and from the Hamilton Airport control tower.

UFO Sighted by NZ Air Traffic Controller, 1995

‘Flaming’ UFO Sighted Across Central North Island,1995  – Multiple Witnesses Sightings, Bay of Plenty and Waikato Regions


Over the last sixty years, numerous UFO sightings have occurred around the coastal areas of the Bay of Plenty, North Island, NZ. In particular, UFOs have been observed entering the sea within an area extending some thirty kilometres off the mainland, including in the vicinity of several off-shore islands near the city of Tauranga. Veteran New Zealand UFO researchers have speculated about the possible existence of an underwater UFO ‘base’.

Similarly, a band or ‘corridor’, where New Zealand’s volatile geothermal volcanic area extends across the central North Island plateau and out to sea off this east coast, is a ‘hotspot’ for UFO sightings.

During January to March of 1995, many New Zealanders witnessed both daylight and night-time sightings of UFOs in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions of the North Island.

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand


At around 9.30 pm on Saturday 25 February, 1995, a witness was outdoors on her rural property when she observed a large bright green light moving steadily down a valley some two hundred metres from her position. It descended on a north-easterly path over the lowland and Tauranga Harbour, towards the Pacific coast.

A second light caught her attention further north along the coastline, descending steeply from high above the Katikati lowlands some ten to fifteen kilometres distant, heading in an easterly direction towards the sea and on an intersecting path with the green light. It was large and striking in appearance – a bright reddish-orange ball of light with a short brilliant red-orange glowing tail flaring behind it. At a lower altitude, the light slowed noticeably, leveling off to a horizontal course for a few seconds before continuing to descend at a less steep angle towards the sea in a seemingly controlled descent.

Meanwhile, the green light steadily continued its converging course beyond Tauranga Harbour and Matakana Island, out over the sea towards Mayor Island. During the final visible part of their descent, the green light moved alongside the larger red light, before being lost from view. The sighting lasted for approximately 12-15 seconds. Conditions were clear and windless and there were no sounds associated with the sightings.


Six days later on Friday 3 March, 1995 at around 11.00 pm, two teenagers were outside cleaning up after a family barbeque on the Omokoroa Peninsula, five kilometres east of where the previous sighting occurred. They described observing a huge ‘flame’ ascending into the sky from low over the sea in the northeast – a bright red-orange ball of light with a short flame-like tail spreading out behind it, the edges ‘dripping’ red-orange light. The light ascended slowly and steeply, moving from the direction of Mayor Island towards the Kaimai Ranges in the west. It appeared from the general area where the two unusual lights had disappeared six days beforehand. The teenagers called their mother outside to witness this event and all three watched as the ‘flaming’ light rose steadily, before maintaining a horizontal course and continuing westward high in the sky until it was no longer visible. There was no sound associated with the sighting.


Six days later on Thursday 9 March, 1995 at approximately 1.17 pm, two witnesses fishing near Pudney Rock, some 9 miles NNE of Tauranga near Motiti Island (east of Mayor Island), Bay of Plenty, observed an object in the sky moving from northeast to southwest from out at sea, travelling towards the coastal lowland. Once again, the object appeared from the general direction of Mayor Island, where the two previous sightings took place. The day was bright and sunny and the sky was otherwise clear.

One of the witnesses, a port pilot and part-time qualified meteorological observer for the NZ Meteorological Service at the time, stated the object was, “ball or sphere-shaped and extremely bright or reflective silver. Immediately in front of

and half surrounding the sphere, was a translucent pinkish halo-type ‘bow wave’ or ripple which pulsed or glowed extremely bright. A short flaring red-orange tail streamed out behind the silver sphere.”

The object appeared over Motiti Island heading towards Papamoa Beach, passing over the Kaimai Ranges heading in the direction of the Waikato region. The witnesses observed the object for 6-8 seconds.


Two to three minutes later on the same day at approximately 1.20 pm, the Air Traffic Control towers at both Hamilton International and Rotorua Airports received reports of sightings of an object/UFO in the skies above the Bay of Plenty and Waikato districts.
At 1.20 pm, Senior Air Traffic Controller at Hamilton International Airport, Graeme Opie, was looking to the south of the control tower when he observed an unusual object moving east to west on a curving horizontal path taking it south-west, trailing a tail. His observation lasted approximately 1½ seconds.

Mr Opie stated, “There were two other staff in the tower at the time, but due to the sighting time being so brief, the UFO was not seen by them. I just happened to be looking in that direction at the right time. Basing a compass rose on the Hamilton control tower (in degrees magnetic), I observed the object travel from approximately 160 degrees through to 183 degrees (approx 23 degrees of arc) in the space of a second or so, so it was moving very fast. I could liken it to the speed of a jet fighter. I consider that what I saw was a UFO – definitely some form of controlled UFO. Very interesting that it did not appear on our radar screens.”

The object was some 10 degrees above the horizon in relation to the observer in the control tower. It maintained level flight and disappeared behind clouds in a westerly direction. Upon losing sight of the object Mr. Opie immediately contacted the Auckland Air Traffic Control Radar Centre to see if the UFO was registering on their radar screens – it was not. The Centre advised him there were no aircraft registering on radar in that area either.

ATC Mr. Opie commented, “It was definitely not a fireball or meteor. The extremely bright silver spherical object glistened similar to sunlight reflecting off a mirror. It was travelling virtually horizontally, trailing a short tail with edges sparkling like fireworks.”

It is likely the object sighted from the Hamilton control tower was the same object sighted approximately two to three minutes beforehand by the fishermen at sea near Pudney Rock, and similarly, in the February 25 and March 3 sightings.

By Suzanne Hansen, Graeme Opie, & Brendon Humphries,
UFOCUS NZ Research Network, New Zealand
Copyright © S. Hansen, G. Opie, & B. Humphries, Revised August 2008

Sighting from Hamilton tower

Curved horizontal path of the object.


That day also, local radio stations and the Waikato Times newspaper received reports of what was undoubtedly also the same object. School children in the township of Cambridge, some seventeen kilometers south of Hamilton, said they saw what looked like a ‘comet’ flying across the sky.

The newspaper printed an article on the sightings the following day entitled, Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!, promoting the opinion of Dr. Wayne Orchiston, Director of the Carter Observatory, Wellington, that the object was a ‘fireball’ (burning rocks ranging in size from thumbnail to fist size, that disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere). However, Dr. Orchiston stated fireballs usually burn up in a flash of heat and light some 25-50 kilometres above the Earth. This, along with the fact the object rose in altitude over the Kaimai Ranges, increasing height and speed, discounted this object from being a fireball. There was no sonic boom. UFOCUS NZ consulted with prominent astronomer (the late) Dr. Frank Bateson, who considered the object could not have been a meteor and concluded he had no idea what the object could have been.

The newspaper article also quoted a Te Kawa farming couple who sighted the object at approximately 1.20 pm that day while driving south along State Highway 3 approaching the Te Kawa crossroad south of the township of Te Awamutu. The wife said it caught her attention because it was so bright, with a ‘rainbow-coloured tail’. It was high in the sky and they had to lean forward to fully observe the object through the windscreen of the car.

ATC triangulation calculations using the three March 9 daytime sightings placed the object approximately 37 kms (20 miles) south of Hamilton International Airport and southwest of the township of Te Awamutu, at approximately 5,791 metres (19,000 feet), travelling some 26 kms (14 miles) at a speed of approximately 50,000 kph (30,000 mph). In the duration of the sightings the object ascended some 5000 feet and increased speed by some 18,000 kph to around 50,000 kph, travelling in a curved path across the Waikato region.


The global UFO harmonic grid system theory, as first formulated by retired NZ Capt. (pilot) Bruce Cathie in the 1950s, may also have a bearing on this particular group of sightings. Capt. Cathie’s books, including Harmonic 33 and Harmonic 695 generated great interest worldwide and over the years he has continued to refine his theories, publishing several more books on the subject of a grid pattern associated with UFO sightings and their flight routes around the planet.

Capt. Cathie, after witnessing several UFO sightings himself during his thirty year career as a pilot for NAC (National Airways Corporation, NZ) came to the conclusion that the UFOs seemed to follow definite ‘track lines’ or ‘grids’ spaced at 7.5 nautical miles apart. The grid is tuned to harmonics of the speed of light and associated mass, gravity, and electromagnetic components. What is obvious from Capt. Cathie’s research is that this ‘grid’ is intricately linked with the mathematical harmonics of ‘reality’ itself, this being the atomic and geometric structures of space and time: the very fabric of the universe.

The five UFO sightings described herein were very close to, if not directly over two of these ‘track lines’ of the Cathie Grid system. In fact the trajectory of the object sighted on March 9 indicates convergence with a major harmonic intersection of the grid located over the sea off Tauranga.


New Zealand sits on the Pacific ‘ring of fire’, with ongoing seismic activity of varying degrees. Over the last eighteen years UFOCUS NZ Research Network has documented notable increases in UFO sightings prior to, during, and after seismic and volcanic activity (these distinct lights are not to be confused with a natural phenomenon called ‘earthquake lights’).

Significantly, these February/March 1995 UFO sightings coincided with an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale that occurred at 11.51 am on February 6, 1995, 140 km off East Cape, eastern Bay of Plenty, in the area of Kermadec Trench where the Australian and Pacific Plates meet. An aftershock of 6.6 occurred on February 10. Both Mayor Island, a dormant volcano associated with these sightings, and White Island, an active volcano lie off the eastern Bay of Plenty coastline.

Sightings of large orange/red lights in New Zealand skies have continued, increasing in frequency over the last five years and coinciding with a rise in serious earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in our country.

– UFOCUS NZ witness interviews and archive
– Waikato Times newspaper, Friday March 10, 1995
– Berrill, John, University of Canterbury, NZ, EERI Newsletter, March 1995, Vol. 29, No. 3
– Hamilton International Airport ATC records
– Auckland Air Traffic Control Radar Centre data
– Cathie, Bruce, and Temm, P. N.: Harmonic 695: The UFO and Anti-gravity, A. H. and L. W. Reed, 1971
– Wises Maps