The Kaikoura Lights UFO incident, also known as the Kaikoura UFO sightings, took place in December 1978 off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand. It involved multiple sightings of unidentified flying objects by aircrew and passengers aboard an aircraft, as well as radar operators and ground witnesses.
The incident began on December 21 when a Safe Air Ltd. cargo plane, carrying the crew of pilot Bill Startup, co-pilot Robert Guard, and photographer Adrian Wells, encountered strange lights while flying over the South Island. They reported seeing a group of bright lights that appeared to be attached to a large aircraft. The lights were described as white and red and were observed making remarkable maneuvers, such as hovering, rapid acceleration, and sudden changes in direction.
The crew alerted air traffic controllers who, in turn, notified the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). An RNZAF aircraft was dispatched to investigate the sightings. Onboard were pilot Squadron Leader H. T. Jones and his crew, who also observed the mysterious lights. They confirmed the presence of the lights and noted that they seemed to be tracking their aircraft.
During the investigation, the RNZAF aircraft’s radar detected unidentified primary targets, indicating the presence of solid objects. These radar returns corresponded with the visual sightings made by the aircrew. The objects displayed extraordinary speed, reportedly reaching up to 1,200 knots, far beyond the capabilities of known aircraft at the time.
Over the course of several nights, additional sightings were reported by ground witnesses, including members of the public and local police officers. The lights were often described as bright, oval-shaped, and exhibiting various colors. Some witnesses reported seeing up to six objects at a time.
The incident gained significant media attention, both locally and internationally, and generated public interest in the UFO phenomenon. It was extensively investigated by various authorities, including scientists, astronomers, and military personnel