Dashcam footage captures meteor exploding over Wellington, lights up sky

Spectacular dashcam footage has captured a meteor lighting up the skies over the Wellington region.

The footage sent to Newshub shows the moment the fireball lights up the skies. Curtis Powell saw it all unfold while he was driving.

"We were driving to a job in Shannon, all of a sudden we saw a stream and then a massive flash in front of me," Powell said.

"I was expecting impact on the ranges but it disappeared."

Wellington local James McCann told Newshub he was working from home when he saw the flash.

"I saw a huge meteor flash across the sky for half a second and then disappeared," he said. "I guess if you're holding your thumb at arm's length, that was the size of the meteor and the trail.

"It looked quite large, it looked pretty big."

McCann described the meteor on Twitter and asked if others had seen it too. 

Some users said the loud sound it made had them thinking an earthquake was about to strike. 

"Huge rumbling noise here and rattling windows. Thought it was an earthquake at first," one said.

"Yes! Huge thump against the house in Masterton that we thought [that it] was a weird earthquake."

"I thought it was an earthquake," said another.

Expert reaction

Astronomy educator at Auckland Stardome Josh Aoraki confirmed to Newshub the fireball was a meteor.

"Very impressive," he said.

Aoraki said he has never seen a meteor during the day, let alone captured on camera. 

"It's pretty rare to see a fireball in the daytime, we don't usually see them in the daytime - so it's pretty rare to catch that in broad daylight," he added. 

He said the fact it made sound isn't uncommon and whether it produces an audible sonic boom depends on its size.

The director of Otago Museum Ian Griffin didn't witness the event but said the reports have been "really interesting".

"This could be a number of things, either a re-entering satellite or potentially a meteoroid, which is a space rock coming through the Earth's atmosphere and surviving its passage," Dr Griffin said.

He urges those with pictures or videos of the meteor to keep them.

"We might be able to use them to triangulate the position of the thing and where it landed - if it did land.

"Also if you saw it and heard a bang, that's quite interesting too. If you know the time between when you saw the flash of light heard the bang that gives us a sense of distance," he added. 

Dr Griffin said if the meteor did land it could be scientifically important to retrieve it. 

"Meteorites in this country are quite rare so actually getting one would be quite cool."