2003 Sightings of Discs and Winged ‘Silver Bullet’ UFOs Over Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki District, North Island, NZ
By Suzanne Hansen, Director UFOCUS NZ Research Network Copyright © Suzanne Hansen 2008
‘Silver Bullet’ Emerges from the Mist
For several days in mid February 2003 the small township of Thames had been blanketed in an odd light mist, described by locals as ‘eerie’.
On Wednesday 12 February 2003 at around 9.20 pm, a retired Thames couple were sitting in their lounge, when they observed a strange sight - a ‘bullet-shaped’ object flew out of the mist into full view and became stationary about 30 metres above their house. Much to their consternation, it remained in that position for about half a minute, before moving swiftly over a short distance and then stopping abruptly again before disappearing back into the mist.
“It had distinctive orange lights that flashed or twinkled and it moved in such a fashion that it could not have been a helicopter,” said the man. “We had never seen anything like this object before.”
They were so astounded that they did not notice whether the object had such features as wings, a tail or windows, but they clearly recalled the cylindrical bullet shape and metallic-looking exterior of the object, and in particular, that the object was completely silent.
The man said his wife was convinced it was a UFO, but he could not accept that idea and wanted an explanation.
'Winged Bullet’ over Whitianga
Four days later, on Sunday 16 February 2003, two retired Whitianga men were sitting outside a house in the township of Whitianga at about 6.30 in the early evening, discussing the America's Cup. Looking to the south towards Coroglen, they spotted two metallic disc-shaped objects that suddenly came into view from the south southwest, and moved over the house heading east. They were only a few hundred metres away from the observers. The discs disappeared from view behind a neighbour's tree, but did not reappear from the other side of it. The witnesses looked beyond the tree, but there was no sign of the discs and the men assumed they had travelled beyond the hills behind Whitianga at speed and out of view.
This strange sight was closely followed a little less than five minutes later by yet another, which one of the men's wife also observed. They all saw a silver cylindrical or bullet-shaped craft with pointed ends, no tail, and horizontal pointed wings positioned about two thirds of the way along the sides of the object, resembling shark fins. This larger craft followed the same path as the smaller discs, passing behind the tree, but quickly reappearing on the other side and moving over the harbour to a distant hill. The bullet-shaped craft hovered in clear view for a short while, and eventually moved away to the east at what the witnesses described as "extreme speed" and was lost from view beyond harbourside hills.
The witnesses noticed that the cylindrical object left a shimmering trail in the air behind it, similar to the heat shimmer created by jet engines. The objects were flying very fast below the clouds, but made no sound at all. The whole sighting lasted around five minutes.
“I said to my mate, what the hell's that?” said the man.
“I called my wife and she saw the object too. We were astounded. If I’d been on my own I would have thought there was something wrong with my eyes, but we all saw it. It was bloody serious; it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.”
This was the first time any of the witnesses had seen a UFO. “You'll probably think I'm silly,” said one of the witnesses. “My first thought was that it was something to do with the US space program, but the objects were flying below the clouds!”
The witnesses reported the event to the Air Force, but heard nothing further about it.
Witness drawing and details from Whitianga sighting.
Red Light over Paeroa
In late February and early March, more residents in Thames, Coromandel and the Hauraki Plains reported mysterious sightings of strange lights and objects in the sky to the Thames Hauraki Herald newspaper.
On 6 March 2003 an unusual light was sighted hovering in the sky over the Paeroa area. A witness was getting out of bed at about 6 am, when he saw a bright red light in the western sky towards nearby Mount Karangahake. He stated that the light seemed to be surrounded by other coloured lights and hovered for about 10 minutes below the clouds. “It just hung up there.”
At first he thought it was a plane, because the sound he could hear was similar to a jet engine but like ‘a whisper’. However he discounted this possible explanation because of the light configuration and the length of time that the light remained absolutely stationary. He was curious to know what it was and if anyone else had seen it.
Historic Sighting of Oblong Craft
The spate of reported sightings prompted Thames residents to write to the Hauraki Herald newspaper to report other past UFO sightings in the same areas.
One such report came from ‘B.C.’ of Thames. Her 1971 sighting also describes a “cigar or oblong” shaped object. B.C. wrote:
‘Amazed and Elated at Lights’
(Hauraki Herald, Friday March 7, 2003, p12.)
“I was very interested to read Lee Foote’s article about UFOs in the Hauraki Herald (February 21). It took me back to the late 1970s when I was privileged, I felt, to observe unusual lights above Thames.
It was early evening, arriving at my sister's Karaka Road home, when I spied lights approaching the town and the southwest sky. I remarked to my daughter and sister how strange they were and that there was no sound of motors.
“You will always see the lights (of a plane) before the sound,” my daughter explained. But when the light stopped in mid-air, became suspended and just remained in one position over the town, I was awestruck.
I called out to the girls to see this. They were much too busy inside to come out. It left me fascinated, especially as all the while there was still no motor sound. The sky was quite dark, so it was difficult to determine the object’s shape - probably a cigar or oblong I think, rather than round. It was hard to determine the size, too.
After a few minutes, “it” shot off over the Una at an incredible speed, leaving me amazed and quite elated at this sighting.
I rang another sister (who has a son in the Air Force) to explain what I had seen. He later told us that there were many unexplained sightings “up there.”
Still are, it seems.”
Artist's reproduction of the drawing in the Hauraki Herald newspaper Fri 7 March 2003.
Pilots Experience Close Encounter with Green Glowing Object
In early March 2003, two friends decided to take a late evening stroll at around 11.30 pm along Waihi Beach, south of Paeroa. One of the two was a light aircraft commercial pilot, and the other was a private pilot - both with 40 years flying experience.
The conditions on this evening were perfect with clear visibility and no wind. The two pilots observed a small green light out at sea that they thought at first must be a light on the mast of a boat near Mayor Island. However the light appeared to be directly approaching the mainland and their position on the beach, rapidly growing larger as it did so. The light had a distinctive bright phosphorus green glow. They soon realized that the light was airborne low over the water’s surface, approaching from the direction of Mayor Island and traveling at a speed they estimated at around 180 knots. It was completely silent. As it came closer, they noticed that within the green glow there were actually three bright green lights forming a triangle. The leading light was raised slightly higher than the other two, and was larger.
Artist's impression of the configuration of bright green lights sighted by the two pilots at Waihi Beach.
The two men watched the light / object approach to within 200 metres of the shore and realized that it was roughly only two metres above the surface of the waves. At this point the “machine” abruptly executed a right-angled turn by rotating (turning as on a pivot) on a horizontal plane, rather than rolling and banking over a considerable distance, as an aircraft would do. The pilots commented that they were amazed how controllable the “machine” was, and how it could manoeuvre in this way without making any sound at all. They could not make out any ‘body’ or framework of the object, just the configuration and position of the lights moving in unison, indicating that they were fixed on a single structure. The light/object proceeded parallel to the shoreline at around 100 knots, heading in the direction of Mount Maunganui (Tauranga shoreline). The two men watched the lights until they disappeared, with the duration of the whole sighting being around 40 seconds.
One of the pilots stated that he had been flying for 40 years and he had never seen such an object like it before. The other pilot had sighted UFOs before during his 40 year flying career.
Flight path of the object/lights from Mayor Is. to within 200 metres of where the witnesses were standing on Waihi Beach.
Flight path of object/lights parallel to the shoreline, heading in the direction of Matakana Island and Mount Maunganui.
Subsequent 2007 ‘Silver Bullet’ Sighting Corroborates 2003 Whitianga Sighting
On 26 March 2007, UFOCUS NZ received a UFO sighting report from a farming couple in the Waitetuna Valley, Waikato region. Their descriptions of a silver bullet-shaped craft bore a striking resemblance to the report by the three Whitianga witnesses, 16 February 2003.
At approximately 8am on a fine morning when the sun was just clearing the hills, a farming couple witnessed a UFO (a solid metallic craft) moving up a valley on their farm.
The husband saw the craft first over the woolshed, and called to his wife to come and see it. They both watched the craft until it disappeared up the valley.
Track of object between hill and woolshed.
When interviewed independently by UFOCUS NZ, both the farmer and his wife were specific about the size and shape of the craft. They described the craft as being roughly cylindrical, the body being bullet- shaped with pointed ends. It was bright metallic silver, with horizontal wings, but no tail. They commented on how bright and shiny it looked in the morning sun, and how it emitted a sound like ‘whisper jet’ (like the sound emitted by the red light sighted over Paeroa 6 March 2003, detailed earlier). It moved quite slowly and silently up the valley close to ground level and appeared to be following the creek water course, before disappearing behind adjacent hills. The wife thought that it had several oval-shaped windows evenly spaced, although the husband could not recall if there were windows or not.
Drawing from description by witnesses, showing an object that bears a striking resemblence to the object sighted 16 February 2003 over Whitianga.
The UFO was between a far hill, which is about 1 mile from the farmhouse, and the woolshed, placing it approximately ½ mile from the witnesses. It was very large, with the husband estimating the object’s size as approximately 30 metres in length, some 6 metres in width, with semi-circular (rounded points) ends. The object was bright silver when viewed up close, and changed to a dull red as it disappeared at the end of the valley road. The craft was clearly visible when stationary for a short time at the end of the valley road, some 1 ½ - 2 miles away from the observers.
Track of object through upper valley.
The husband had been a pilot and was very familiar with aircraft types and shapes. He was quite clear that the object he and his wife had observed was not an aircraft. The couple both reported observing UFOs in their valley over previous years and these had also been seen by neighbouring farmers, but these sightings were not reported for fear of ridicule.
As a result of the number of UFO sightings reported in the Thames, Coromandel and Hauraki areas in early 2003, the Hauraki Herald newspaper (Thames) approached the Air Force to find out if the lights were in fact aircraft, or some aviation activity unknown to the public.
New Zealand Defence Force public relations spokesman Squadron Leader Rick Cullinane said that the Air Force had no aircraft in any of the areas at the times the sightings were reported.
The locations of the sightings did not conform to scheduled airline flight paths within New Zealand. Nor did the flight characteristics or physical descriptions of the objects/lights that were sighted resemble those of conventional aircraft, or conventional aircraft light configurations.
1. UFOCUS NZ files and interviews.
2. ‘Hauraki Herald’ (Thames) newspaper archives, 2003.