|Excellent visibility; sky clear in the vicinity; some clouds on the eastern horizon; no wind. The sighting lasted approx 1 minute and was reported to UFOCUS NZ within an hour of the occurrence.
The sighting took place in a rural farming/viticulture area near Seddon. The witness went outside to feed his dogs at about 10.10 p.m. He noticed what he thought was an unusually bright star or planet to the north east of his house at about 30° above the horizon. He stopped to take more notice as he couldn't remember a star or planet this low or this bright before. His initial thoughts were of a spotlight on a vehicle up on the hills, however the light seemed to be positioned higher than where the road would be, for this explanation. It appeared to be about 25 m above the top of a hill. The witness described the size of the light as large, with what looked like a beam of light shining from it. The white light was quite intense and resembled a high-powered spotlight on an aircraft. When the light changed colour to red, and dimmed (beam of light went off/out), it appeared smaller.
The light was initially stationary or hovering, but after about 30 seconds of observation, the light dimmed and appeared to recede slightly, before changing to a red flashing light. It then flew off quickly to the south east, eventually disappearing from view in the direction of Cape Campbell. The flight path was not a direct one as one would expect of an aircraft. The path of the light seemed to oscillate or change direction erratically or randomly. The witness stated that from past observations of aircraft, the light moved considerably faster than a commercial airliner.
The observer's initial thoughts were that this was possibly a helicopter on some kind of spotlighting mission, but the unusual manner of its flight and its perceived speed, made him suspect otherwise. He commented that usually you can make out the sound of commercial airliners flying overhead, and he felt that if this was indeed a helicopter, then he would probably have heard some noise, as it was a perfectly still and quiet night. However, there was absolutely no noise associated with the sighting. The witness could not work out what an aircraft would be doing in this particular area at this time of night, especially with a spotlight on. He commented that he lives in an area of vineyards, which often have helicopters on frost protection duty, but it was the wrong time of the year for that sort of activity, and the direction of the departure of the light was well away from the vineyards and in the opposite direction to the nearest aerodromes.
During the sighting, the witness realized he had a video camera in the car that was parked in front of him. At the moment he thought of moving towards the car to retrieve the camera the light dimmed and headed off into the distance. At the time of writing his initial report the witness thought this was merely coincidental, but after submitting his report, he noticed that some other reports on our website mention this similar factor - that the light seemed to respond in some way to the observer's thoughts.
UFOCUS NZ comments:
- We enquired with Blenheim airport ATC, who advised there were no helicopter flights that they were aware of in that area at the time of the sighting, and they were not aware of any RNZAF activity either.
- However, helicopters do operate from private fields and ATC would not be aware of their operation, unless they were close to controlled airspace.
- The erratic movement of the light and its flight path toward Cape Campbell does not coincide with the route of any commercial aircraft flying into/out of Wellington.
- The flight pattern of the light was more like that of a helicopter, however, the speed of the light was described as faster than a commercial airliner, and the observer stated that it disappeared from view “quite quickly”.
- Venus was visible in the sky, however, the witness observed this light to shine a beam, dim in intensity, change colour, and move off at speed.
- Around this time, there were heavy snowfalls up the Awatere Valley further to the southwest of the observer's position, and air force helicopters were used to drop feed to isolated sheep and stock. However, these helicopters would not have been flying at night, and the light viewed by the observer was positioned to the north east and departed in a south easterly direction, towards the coastal lowlands and sea off Clifford Bay/Cape Campbell.