In December 1978 a number of strange lights were reported zipping around the skies in New Zealand’s Kaikoura Mountain Range. The first sighting was reported on December 21st when an air cargo crew were startled by the appearance of several strange lights tracking alongside their aircraft. The lights would follow them for several minutes before disappearing and reappearing some distance away. The pilots described the lights as varying sizes with some being as big as a house and others small enough to fit in your hand. The lights appeared on the aircrafts radar as well as the radar at the air traffic control in Wellington several hundred kilometres away.
The initial report was followed by many more sightings reported by the general public. An Air Force Skyhawk plane was put on stand-by to investigate any reported sightings. Since the initial December 1978 sightings the lights have returned intermittently with US Navy pilots capturing videos of the lights in 2004 and 2015.
Declassified documents from the CIA stated that the sightings were unique among civilian UFO sightings as there was a wealth of well documented evidence of the occurrence including footage from a professional Australian film crew who journeyed to New Zealand specifically to investigate the lights.
A Journalist named Quentin Fogarty was on a plane on the night of December 30, 1978 when the mysterious lights appeared in front of the aircraft.
“On the flight down, what we basically saw were pinpricks of light that turned into great globes of light, and they were airborne, and they were between us and the coast because we could see the coast and we could see the sea, and we could see these things shining down,” he says.
Once they got to Christchurch they gathered some better quality film and got on another plane to Blenheim. The lights followed them for their entire journey and they were able to capture a huge amount of footage of the lights. At the same time as the flights two separate radar systems detected the movement of the strange lights in their systems.
An investigation was conducted by the NZ Ministry of Defence which concluded that the lights were just reflections from ground level bouncing off of the clouds. Many people believe this explanation to be unconvincing including the pilots who witnessed the incidents. Perhaps the lights could be simple reflections but that doesn’t explain why they are captured on radar at a speed of 140 knots. UFO enthusiasts continue to investigate the footage and any further sightings of the Kaikoura Lights hoping to come up with a more satisfying explanation for them.