By ALASTAIR PAULIN - The Nelson Mail
No-one used the word UFO but the lights seen in the sky over Upper Moutere, near Nelson, last night are definitely unidentified.
Several people reported seeing balls of fire in the sky about 9.30pm, with Matiu Noakes saying he saw nine, moving from the direction of Kina toward Upper Moutere. "They looked like skydivers coming down with flares attached to them."
He said they faded out over Upper Moutere and were going too fast to be flares.
Lisa Chambers, marketing manager for Skydive Abel Tasman and a keen member of Nelson's skydiving community, said "there is absolutely no way it could have been skydivers". She said night drops were too dangerous in that area and had there been a prank afoot, she would have known.
Mike Reed, a helicopter pilot, said he was driving toward Motueka along the Moutere Highway when he saw the lights. He saw several other cars parked at the turnoff to Neudorf Rd, and spoke to others there who had been watching the lights.
He said he expected to hear aircraft noise when he turned off his engine but it was completely silent. Even so, he double-checked with air traffic control at Nelson Airport, which knew of no aircraft in the sky nearby at the time.
He said the lights were below the clouds, which he estimated to be about 300 to 500 metres up, and one of them appeared to float up into the clouds.
"If I was going to take a guess on it, I would say somebody's got a bunch of helium balloons and they've tied something on to it." But he had discounted every theory he had come up with so far.
Astronomer Robert Rea, of the Nelson Science Society, said he doubted anything astronomical would have pierced last night's cloud cover. Motueka police said they received no calls.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Greg Browne has studied the marks for years.
Dinosaur footprints found in northwest Nelson have given scientists their first proof the beasts roamed the South Island more than 70 million years ago.
The prints are in soft sandstone on private and Department of Conservation land over an area of about 10km and up to 20 appear at one spot alone.
Their exact locations will be kept secret to protect them and their private owners, but scientists will make moulds so copies can be preserved and available to the public.
The prints are likely to have been made by sauropods, large plant-eating dinosaurs between 2m and 6m long that weighed several tonnes.
Geologist Dr Greg Browne made the discovery a decade ago, but it wasn't made public until now.
Browne said the dinosaur link only emerged after several years of study.
"The structures show evidence that they were formed by something large and heavy that depressed the sand downward because of the load," he said.
The round markings, up to 60cm across, would have been made in beach sand and preserved by "wet sticky mud" washed in by the tide.
"What makes this discovery special is the unique preservation of the footprints in an environment where they could easily have been destroyed by waves, tides or wind."
GNS Science paleontologist Dr Hamish Campbell said scientists have yet to decide the best way to protect the prints.
"These are great features from a scientific point of view and because they relate to dinosaurs the public will be incredibly interested.
"Somehow we've got to balance the interest of the public with privacy and conservation. Maybe one day there'll be a dinosaur park or reserve where people can see them," he said.
The latest find will be published in the New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics next month.
By Heather McCracken - HERALD ON SUNDAY