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Mystery boom rocks the region

MetService’s radar showed a possible meteor smoke trail just south of Ngawi. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Reports of a meteor exploding over Wairarapa flooded social media and clogged Times-Age phone lines on Thursday, after a loud boom and a trail of smoke rattled houses and terrified pets across the region.

Dozens of people reported seeing the meteor at 1.50pm yesterday, describing dramatic scenes of a bright flash, a trail of smoke, and a loud boom.

A spokesperson for MetService confirmed one of their radars had picked up unusual activity.

“We are mainly focused on hydrometeors, so this one is a little outside our area of expertise.

“However, one of our expert meteorologists had a look through some of the radar imagery at the time and it may have picked up the smoke trail left behind.”

They said the smoke from the radar image drifted east showing a trail just south of the Cape Palliser coast.

A spokesperson for Air New Zealand said the company had not received reports of any man-made material returning to earth.

“We had not received any notifications Thursday.”

The spokesperson said no aircraft had fallen out of the sky either.

“A 737 flying over Wellington will get up to a maximum of 40,000ft. Any meteor is likely to be well-above that.”

Carterton fire officer Wayne Robinson said he raced back to the station after seeing a flaming trail in the sky.

“I was driving home from a job when I saw a massive light. It looked like it landed in the middle of town.

“It was about 100m long flame coming out of the sky.

“I went straight back to the fire station expecting a call.”

Many reported feeling an earthquake to Geonet, citing rattling houses and scared pets. One person on social media reported that it “shook my house, my fish and cats went crazy”.

Kuranui College student Monet Dignan said it shook the family house in Woodside.

“I was outside and just happened to look up and saw this glowing line that was getting longer and brighter until I couldn’t look at it anymore.

“Mum heard giant bangs. It shook the house in Woodside.”

A Masterton firefighter said he was outside in the Opaki area when he heard a series of loud explosions.

“I was waiting for my pager to go off.

“I had a look around, expecting to see smoke, but couldn’t see anything.”

Nasa reported two asteroid approaches were expected from July 6 – 7 in the United States. Both were about the size of a bus, between six and seven metres, however, the closest they were expected to get to earth was about 89,000km.


There have been nine meteorites found in New Zealand, including one in Wairarapa in 1863.

In 2004, a meteorite came through the roof of an Auckland house.

According to Fireballs Aotearoa, of the 69,000 meteorites found worldwide, only 40 have been photographed as a fireball.

Additional reporting by Mary Argue.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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