Famous UFO cases: Kaikoura lights – New Zealand, 1978

UFOs! Obnoxious lights spate the sky!

Kaikoura, N.Z.

Is UFO a meteor or a shooting star? Or Kaikoura lights? The famous UFO Sighting took place in New Zealand in December 1978. In the annals of these alleged UFO sightings, this wasn’t the first of its kind, but definitely the biggest conundrums of New Zealand. The title Kaikoura lights was coined by the media, to memorialize the Kaikoura mountain ranges where the inexplicable phenomenon was perceived.

The conception of this random encounter, with an anonymous target detected on the air base radio was a scare for the Argosy freighter on December 21st, 1978. The aerial vehicle displayed eccentric behavior. For a moment, it would vanish into thin air and in the next; it would re-emerge from a different direction. As put by the pilot, the gleaming lights pulsated intermittently. Consequently, an investigation was called for, pertinent to these UFO sightings. On December 30, 1978, a television crew from Australia rendered a peripheral film for a network show aired on the interviews about these UFO sightings. Aboard the plane, one of the crew members’s claimed to have witnessed a streak of lights and then disappeared abruptly. Struck with astonishment, the pilot turned the plane to get a perspective of what was after them. Only this time, the crew got a 30 second tape recording on the object. After a substantial success, the plane landed safely at its destination, with the UFO still beeping a red dot on the radar.

Following the nature of events that took place that night, the New Zealand air force was on high alert to intercept any detectable UFOs in sight. One whimsical interpretation purported by the media was that the crew on the air plane had apprehended Venus that night. On the legal front, the police collaborated with the air force to investigate into the matter but later, the famous UFO case of Kaikoura lights, 1978, was referred to the UFO cases department in the intelligence agencies.

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The Kaikoura Lights New Zealand UFO Sighting
The Kaikoura Lights is a name given by the New Zealand media to a series of sightings that occurred in December 1978, over the skies above the Kaikoura mountain ranges of the northeastern South Island of New Zealand. The first sightings were made on December 21 when the crew of a Safe Air Ltd cargo aircraft began observing a series of strange lights around their Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy aircraft, which tracked along with their aircraft for several minutes before disappearing and then reappearing elsewhere. The pilots described some of the lights to be the size of a house and others small but flashing brilliantly. These objects appeared on the air traffic controller radar in Wellington and also on the aircraft’s on-board radar. The objects were also seen by hundreds of people on the ground.
On December 30, 1978, a television crew from Australia recorded background film for a network show on interviews about the sightings. For many minutes at a time on the flight to Christchurch, unidentified lights were observed by five people on the flight deck, were tracked by Wellington Air Traffic Controllers, and filmed in color by the television crew. One object reportedly followed the aircraft almost until landing. The cargo plane then took off again with the television crew still on board, heading for Blenheim. When the aircraft reached about 2000 feet, it encountered a gigantic lighted orb, which fell into station off the wing tip and tracked along with the cargo aircraft for almost quarter of an hour, while being filmed, watched, tracked on the aircraft radar and described on a tape recording made by the TV film crew.

UFO – Kaikoura Coast, New Zealand, January 3, 1979
A UFO over Kaikoura Coast, New Zealand on January 3, 1979.

Kaikoura UFO
It has been almost 30 years since unidentified flying objects were observed off the coast of Kaikoura during the Christmas/New Year break of 1978.
The sightings are to be marked soon with a commemorative flight, a gathering of enthusiasts and even a musical.
At the time, news of the sightings was reported worldwide and to this day they remain a huge source of controversy.
But the remarkable thing about the sightings is whatever was flying around that night was not just observed, it showed up on radar too and was caught on film.
It is one of New Zealand’s biggest mysteries and one of the world’s best documented sightings of a UFO.
“The most important thing I think about his story is that even to this day, the flight crew and the air traffic controllers are adamant that we saw something highly unusual that can’t be explained in mundane terms,” says journalist Quentin Fogarty. “Now, 30 years later, they still believe that.”
Mr Fogarty was the reporter, with a news crew, that filmed the UFOs on an Argosy freight plane the night of the December 30, 1978.

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