Ufocus NZ has documented increases in UFO sightings prior to, during, and after major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

New Zealand UFO Sightings Associated with Volcanic/Seismic Activity


White Island

 New Zealand sits on the Pacific “ring of fire”, with ongoing seismic and volcanic activity of varying degrees.  The Pacific tectonic plate dives underneath the Australian plate right beneath New Zealand, with active plate tectonic collision continuing north of New Zealand into the Kermadec Trench, with over fifty undersea volcanoes.  Most New Zealand volcanism occurs in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which extends from White Island in the east to the cluster of three volcanoes in the central North Island volcanic plateau: Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe.  Both Mayor Island, a dormant volcano, and White Island, an active volcano, lie off the eastern Bay of Plenty coastline.

Active White Island

UFO sightings have been documented in a number of countries with volcanic activity, including Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, Japan and Italy, and photographs exist of alleged lights circling or entering volcanoes.  Over the last eighteen years UFOCUS NZ Research Network has documented notable increases in UFO sightings prior to, during, and after seismic and/or volcanic activity.  For example, ten days before the tragic 2011 earthquake centered near Christchurch, at the time NZ’s second-most populous city, UFOCUS NZ began receiving reports of configurations of lights (as on a single flying object) and glowing airborne objects in the vicinity of Christchurch and surrounding areas (these distinct lights are not to be confused with a natural phenomenon called “earthquake lights”).  Reports continued throughout the earthquake and aftershocks, ceasing two weeks after the main earthquake.

Significantly, the UFO sighting cases documented in this article coincided with widespread and tumultuous seismic/volcanic activity, and involved the sighting of non-conventional, unidentified craft, as opposed to just “lights in the sky”.

 Case 1: A Cluster of UFO Sightings 1995

 A spate of UFO sightings began in February 1995 around the time of an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, that occurred 100 km off East Cape, eastern Bay of Plenty, with an aftershock measuring 6.6.  During January to March of 1995, many New Zealanders witnessed both day-time and night-time sightings of UFOs in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Central Plateau regions of the North Island.

A Rendezvous?

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

Artists impression

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 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.

Flight path of the two lights/objects observed from the Kaimai foothills.

Witnesses sketch of flame ascending into sky.

A “Flame” in the Night Sky

  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 – 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 in the east towards the Kaimai Ranges in the west, and appearing to travel from the general area of ocean 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 assuming a horizontal course and continuing westward high in the sky until it was no longer visible.  There was no sound associated with the sighting.

 Fishermen Witness Daytime UFO 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 tugboat pilot and part-time qualified meteorological observer for the NZ Meteorological Service, 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.”

Dormant Mayor Island

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

Witness’s sketch

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

ATC Sights UFO from Hamilton International Airport Control Tower

 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.

View from control tower showing sighting arc

At 1.20 pm, Senior Air Traffic Controller at Hamilton International Airport, (the late) Graeme Opie, was looking to the south of the control tower when he observed an unusual object moving from the east 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 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 possibly, in the February 25 and March 3 sightings.

Great Balls of Fire!

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 to cross over the Kaimai Ranges, its 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, at approximately 5,791 metres (19,000 feet) altitude, 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 and passing over the central North Island volcanic plateau.

Mount Ruapehu eruption June 1995

Major Volcanic Alert

What was happening In New Zealand at this time in 1995 in terms of volcanic/seismic activity?

  • January: UFO sighting reports begin from across central North Island
  • Feb: major earthquake swarms occur off East Cape, North Island
  • 25 Feb to 9 March: significant cluster of UFO sightings across central North Island
  • March to early June:  seismic activity under Mount Ruapehu, Central North Island
  • June:  Mount Ruapehu erupts in spectacular fashion
  • August/September:  further minor eruptions through into 1996
  • Mount Ruapehu eruption June 1995

Case 2:  Sighting of Trapezium-shaped UFO 2007

On Thursday 8 March 2007, at around 10.30 pm, a hunter and a local policeman were travelling over rough terrain on the central North Island volcanic plateau, just south of National Park Village.  The village is located some 26 kms east and near the wide base of active volcano Mount Ruapehu, which forms the “volcanic triangle” along with Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro.  The hunter described what they came across in this unhospitable environment:

“A friend, who is a local policeman, and I were out looking for feral deer with a spotlight.  We decided to travel north up the railway line on the way home to National Park Village.  We drove past an area where about eighty hectares of scrub was burnt in a fire in May 2006.  The scrub was burnt down to the dirt and swampy waterways pass through the area, although at this time it was quite dry. 

As we crossed the railway line, my friend commented casually, “We have company.” 

Witness’s illustration

Looking back down the burnt area around what I guessed to be eighty metres, on or near the ground was a strange display of lights: four very bright red/orange lights (like embers) evenly spaced in a line, and a larger elongated single yellowish light above.  My friend said it must be a large vehicle.  I know this rugged area well, and I maintained nobody in a large vehicle would even consider entering the area, unless it was suitably equipped for the terrain, or an army vehicle.  He then said it must be a fire, because the lights were glowing like embers.  I said it wasn’t a fire, and thought maybe it was a tent with mesh windows and with lights inside it.  To end this debate, I jumped out of our vehicle (Toyota Hilux) to shine the spotlight on this unknown object, but the spotlight unplugged as I exited the Hilux. 

To our surprise the object then just lifted a little further above the ground and took off, making an extremely swift exit in a southerly direction at very low altitude, with no noise, and then the lights just vanished!

The next day we went back to the location and did a search for any ground markings or anything that might indicate what the object could have been, but we couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary in the area where this object was stationary.  It was landed or hovering in a little dip obscured from view from nearby National Park Village homes.  One hundred metres south-west of where the object had been is a railway power substation, and National Park Village is about five hundred metres north of the area, so it was pretty close to the township. 

I keep going over and over in my mind what we saw, but can’t make any sense of it.  My friend thought people would think we were mad if we reported it!  I don’t know if it is connected, but I have had a dry throat since.  This is the second time in my life I have seen something unexplainable.”

Further corroborative sightings?

Witnesses drawing

Eight days later on Friday 16 March, 2007, at around 11.30 pm, two women travelling home from a meeting observed a bright orange trapezium-shaped object moving slowly over the outer suburbs of the city of Tauranga, north east of the Central Plateau, on the coastline.  They were astonished by the clearly discernable and unusual shape, and its slow silent movement.

Three days later on Monday 19 March at 10.15 pm, just north of Tauranga city, a witness observed an unusual dark object silently moving across the sky beyond the city boundary.  He described it as “a triangular prism”, with orange lights at one end, and a large orange light underneath, revealing the object’s unusual shape.  Although this object’s description varies from the two previous sightings, and therefore must be regarded as a separate object/sighting, the possibility remains that it was the same object but was described inaccurately by the witness; the outward sloping sides of all three objects seems a key factor.

Multiple Volcanoes become active, 2007

Mt. Ruapehu eruption and lahar 2007

What was happening at this time in 2007 in terms of volcanic/seismic activity?

  • February: swarms of earthquakes in central North Island
  • Feb/March: White Island crater lake temperature rapidly rises
  • February 22: multiple earthquakes in Hauraki Gulf, Auckland
  • March 8: landed UFO seen near Mt. Ruapehu
  • March 16: UFO sighted near Tauranga
  • March 17: lahar warning issued for Mt. Ruapehu, central North Island
  • March 18: eruption; lahar flows over Mt. Ruapehu’s crater edge
  • March 19: 2nd UFO sighted near Tauranga
  • March 20: swarm of over 100 earthquakes under Mt. Ruapehu
  • March 21: seismic activity under Mt. Ngauruhoe after 30 years inactivity


UFOCUS NZ’s research indicates a correlation between some reported UFO sighting activity and periods of increased seismic/volcanic activity in New Zealand.  Clusters of sighting reports have been received around 2-3 weeks prior to significant s/v activity and tectonic plate movement, and continue throughout the active period, and for up to 2 weeks afterwards, tapering off.  Our documentation includes reports of natural “earthquake lights”, distinct configurations of lights, large single lights that move silently across the sky, and reports of sightings of actual landed, hovering and moving UFOs / non-conventional airborne objects.  This research, along with similar research in Chile and other countries with s/v activity, suggests/theorizes that the tectonic plate activity of Earth is being monitored or observed by off-planet civilizations.

Suzy Hansen © 2019


UFOCUS NZ interviews and archive

NZ Herald (nzherald.co.nz)

Radio NZ (rnz.co.nz)

Waikato Times


Aug/Sept – further eruptions through into 1996