Spectacular green meteor flashes across NZ sky

Hundreds of witnesses have described the magnificence of watching a meteor flash across the New Zealand sky last night.

Meteor in Christchurch May 3

Seen from all different parts of the country, most eye witness accounts describe a fast moving green light with a white tail flying over the sky between 6pm and 7pm.

"Wife and I saw a bright blue/greenish light with white tail as we were crossing the Auckland harbour bridge into the city around 6:25pm. We initially thought it was fireworks but was puzzled as it came out of nowhere from the sky and flew near-horizontally before it vanished. It appeared pretty close, as if it was flying just over Freemans Bay," James commented to Weather Watch.

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Stardome Observatory educator Tim Jessop confirmed the siting to Weather Watch.

"It looked big, but they're often not very large at all. It almost certainly wouldn't have made it to the ground, it would have burnt up high in the atmosphere," he said.

Sightings came from all over the country including Wanaka, Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, Taranaki and Auckland.

Many people took to the Weather Watch website describing what they saw and seeking confirmation that the meteor wasn't a figment of their imagination.

"I was leaving my friends house in Richmond (near Nelson) at 6:30 last night when a lare green meteorite like object shot across the sky. It was travelling southwestwards and burnt out before reaching the horizon. It was larger than any shooting start or meteorite I had ever seen before and was spectacular to see. It was as though someone had let off a flare but judging by the widespread sightings it was much further away than it appeared to be," wrote Glen Hayes.

"I saw something on a drive through the Akatarawas in Upper Hutt, around 6:30pm last night. At first, it looked like a very bright star, then, as I was looking at it, it dropped suddenly, vertically, with a blazing tail, right in front of me, into the valley below. It fell between the road and the background hills, in front of the horizon. It was amazing! So close, I wondered if it was a flare, or a random firework. I wonder now if it was a fragment from the meteor that fell around the same time?" wrote a user Bright Lights.

"I also saw a green flash with white sparkles at about 630pm in Christchurch, appearing in the North travelling East to West. My first thought was that it was a firework rocket as it was travelling horizontally and appeared to be only a couple of hundred metres away," said another.

A meteor is the phenomenon when a small rocky or metallic body travels through space and enters the Earth's atmosphere where it heats up and produces a streak of light, both from the glowing object and the trail of glowing particles it leaves in its wake.