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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: Cryptids

Prime Minister Muldoon vs. Aliens

New Zealand Prime Minister Rob Muldoon might be most remembered for drunkenly announcing a snap election in 1984 (which he lost). But have you heard the story of the time that PM Muldoon demanded that the NZ Defence Force get to the bottom of an apparent case of … UFOs?

The scene: the late 70s, a time of economic inflation, energy crisis and copious moustaches. On a fateful night in December 1978, a few cargo pilots would have an experience they would never forget.

In the skies high over the Kaikōura Ranges, the crew on a freight run by Safe Air Ltd Cargo noticed lights dancing around their Armstrong Whitworth aircraft. Some of the lights seemed to follow the same trajectory as their own aircraft, for several minutes. Captain Powell also picked up an object moving towards him travelling at more than 10,000 miles an hour! The lights varied in size, and some were allegedly as large as a house. These objects even appeared on air traffic control radar in Wellington!

Raising the stakes even higher, a TV news crew from Australia promptly joined the action, and boarded another flight on the 30th December 1978, equipped with cameras – and they got results on film! In a world first, these lights were recorded on film and monitored by Wellington air traffic control. Journalist Quentin Forgarty described seeing “…this string of lights, it started as a small pinpoint of light then grew into this large pulsating globe with tinges of orange and red.”

At this point, Prime Minister Muldoon took a strong personal interest in the lights watched by many witnesses and thousands more people on television. The ‘ Kaikōura Lights’ were to be the first – and only – UFO sighting in New Zealand that lead to a full investigation. An air force Orion was sent on a reconnaissance mission and a Skyhawk jet fighter was put on stand-by to investigate any further sightings. The air force prepared a detailed document, but, alas, the mysterious lights were chalked up to lights from a Japanese squid fleet, the glow of the planet Venus or apparently even moonlight bouncing off cabbages. The radar detections in Wellington were blamed on atmospheric disturbances.

I for one and not entirely convinced by these banal explanations… perhaps you might want to do some further UFO investigation with these items from our collection and local resources👽

What to do if you see a UFO | The Spinoff

josie_UFOA comprehensive guide from The Spinoff, which even includes a link to the 1978 Kaikōura footage!

How UFOs conquered the world : the history of a modern myth / Clarke, David
“A history of the various manifestations and shifting meaning of the Twentieth Century’s single great contribution to mythology: the UFO. Neither a credulous work of conspiracy theory nor a sceptical debunking of belief in ‘flying saucers’, How UFOs Changed the World explores the origins of UFOs in the build-up to the First World War and how reports of them have changed in tandem with world events, science and culture. The book will also explore the overlaps between UFO belief and religion and superstition.” (Catalogue)

The UFO files the inside story of real-life sightings / Clarke, David
“Original records newly released by the Ministry of Defence and now held at The National Archives in Kew reveal how British Intelligence and the CIA investigated many Cold War sightings. This title presents the story of over 200 years of UFO sightings drawing on the formerly secret reports from the Ministry of Defence.” (Catalogue)

Fake news : separating truth from fiction / Miller, Michael
“This title explores journalistic and fact-checking standards, Constitutional protections, and real-world case studies, helping readers identify the mechanics, perpetrators, motives, and psychology of fake news. A final chapter explores methods for assessing and avoiding the spread of fake news.” (Catalogue)

The NZ files : UFOs in New Zealand / Hassall, Peter
“New Zealand has had its share of mysterious happenings and unidentified flying objects, and this attempts a history of UFOs in New Zealand. There have been hundreds of recorded sightings this century and possibly thousands more not recorded.” (Catalogue)

Chicken Soup for the Adventurous Soul

Exams are on the horizon, and some of you may be fighting the urge to run into the woods and never return. But fear not – Spring is in the air, and the world is full of wonderful things to distract you from study! Now is the perfect time to be daydreaming about those Summer roadies and camping trips, and what better way to prepare for the great outdoors than by popping down to your local library for a quick peruse of Bear Grylls’ collected works?

Whether you’re planning a quick day-trip through the bush, a few days camping with friends, or are fully committed to vanishing amongst the undergrowth and resurfacing only often enough that you become a haunting fixture of local folklore, our collection has something for you.

You can find more information about local hiking trails on the Wellington City Council website.

The young adventurer’s guide to (almost) everything : build a fort, camp like a champ, poop in the woods–45 action-packed outdoor activities / Hewitt, Ben
“[…] The Young Adventurer’s Guide will teach kids everything from how to walk like a fox and see like an owl to use the stars as their own personal GPS and even how to build the world’s coolest fort out of foraged sticks. This handbook for curious kids will empower them to explore the natural world and even the comfort of their own backyard through a whole new set of skills. Featuring 65 different skills in sections that include: Secrets of the Woods, The Best Camping Trip, Make Cool Stuff That’s Actually Useful and Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hiking & tramping in New Zealand / Bennett, Sarah
“Lonely Planet Hiking and Tramping in New Zealand is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Admire the dramatic peaks and valleys of Fiordland National Park, stroll past bays and beaches of the Abel Tasman Coast, or scale an active volcano on the North Island.” (Catalogue)

Survival handbook : an essential companion to the great outdoors / Sumerak, Marc
“This book includes crucial tips on exactly what you need to know to survive even the most unexpected circumstances. This illustrated guide shows you how to make a shelter, build a fire, locate clean water, forage for food, avoid deadly animals, protect yourself from bad weather, and find your way back home safely afterward. Whether you’re lost, hungry, burned, or buried, knowing essential emergency survival skills could literally mean the difference between life and death.” (Catalogue)

Day walks of Greater Wellington / Gavalas, Marios
“[…] With overviews of popular walking areas, each walk is given a track grade, approximate travel time, easy access details, notes on the track itself and points of interest to highlight the most memorable features. Illustrated with maps and plenty of photographs, this handy guide is the essential companion for anyone venturing into the region’s outdoors.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Camping / Grylls, Bear
“Ever wanted to be an adventurer like Bear Grylls? If you do, you will need to know all the skills required to survive camping in the wilderness! In this practical field guide readers will learn how to choose the best site, how to build shelters and how to make a solar shower – and much more. With full-colour illustrations throughout, this book will appeal to scout groups, as the topic coincides with scout badges.” (Catalogue)

A forager’s treasury / Knox, Johanna
“Features profiles of many edible plants commonly found in New Zealand, including advice on where to find them, how to harvest them and how best to use them”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)


The beginner’s guide to hunting + fishing in New Zealand / Adamson, Paul
“Includes information on the right equipment for the right species, hunting with dogs, and mountain safety and bushcraft essentials. With diagrams, fun facts, a glossary of hunting terms, helpful tips and even some recipes to try out at home … has an emphasis on safety and provides all budding hunters with the basic skills and knowledge for a lifetime of adventure in the great outdoors”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Survival for beginners : a step-by-step guide to camping and outdoor skills / Towell, Colin
“This essential survival guide for intrepid young explorers shows the skills and techniques you need for outdoor adventure, from maps and navigation to camping. Learn the basics – from picking the best campground to knowing how to build a shelter – with clear step-by-step illustrations […] So start packing your rucksack for an outdoor adventure and don’t forget to read Survival for Beginners.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bushcraft : outdoor skills for the New Zealand bush
“Bushcraft is an excellent resource for outdoor activities. It helps both novices and those with some experience to enjoy the NZ bush in greater safety. Provides up-to-date information on new techniques, new equipment, and new ideas. Chapters include trip planning, managing risk, food, equipment, shelter, tramping skills, weather, navigation, river safety, hazards, emergency procedures, and much more!” (Catalogue)

Curiosities and splendour
“Journey back in time with this collection of classic travel writing from great authors and adventurers. These extraordinary odysseys over land and sea captivated audiences and gave them a glimpse into countries, cities and cultures like never before. Tales include Robert Byron’s ten-month journey through Persia to Afghanistan in the early 30s; Jack London’s 1907 sailing adventure across the south Pacific; and Teddy Roosevelt’s scientific exploration of the Brazilian jungles exotic flora and fauna […] (Adapted from Catalogue)

Lost lore : a celebration of traditional wisdom, from foraging and festivals to seafaring and smoke signals / McGovern, Una
“An engaging introduction to traditional knowledge and forgotten wisdom” (Catalogue)

Lockdown Cryptid-Spotting: A Librarian’s Guide

One of the few big perks of lockdown is getting to see our native fauna thriving and making their way back into our gardens. In fact, this is a great time to keep an eye out for some of the less well-known creatures creeping around our country…. That’s right, I’m talking CRYPTIDS.

For the uninitiated, a cryptid is an animal or entity whose existence hasn’t been conclusively proven. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster (although I saw Nessie when I was 6, and that seems like solid evidence). Everyone has a favourite (or they will after reading this), but most of the biggies are off overseas. So what kind of cryptids can we be keeping an eye out for here in the backyards of Aotearoa?

Waitoreke

Also known as the New Zealand otter or kaurehe, the waitoreke is arguably Aotearoa’s most legitimate cryptid because nobody actually knows what it is (or if it exists at all)! Described as a otter-like creature the size of a cat, sightings of the Waitoreke date back more than 200 years, and some sources suggest that this amphibious good boy was kept as a pet by early Māori. If you’re stuck somewhere in the South Island, keep an eye out around your local waterways for glimpses of Aotearoa’s cutest cryptid.

The Fiordland Moose

In 1910, the Southland Acclimatisation Society introduced a handful of moose into Fiordland. As it turns out, these moose were very good at hiding and were largely forgotten about. The last proven sighting of the elusive moose was in 1952 but evidence has continued to sporadically surface, such as an entire moose antler that was discovered in the early 70s. I’ll admit it’s been a little while since anything conclusive was found, but maybe lockdown will be enough to encourage the Fiordland moose to find their way back into our lives.

The Goatman

Those of you familiar with Buzzfeed Unsolved’s search for the mysterious Goatman may have jumped at the familiar name, but the Goatman which lurks on lonely roads around New Zealand is a local specialty. One of many goat-ish cryptids from around the globe, our Goatman frequently manifests as a blokey hitchhiker, and many of the recorded sightings describe him approaching cars to ask for a lift on dark nights. Despite an ominous (and apparently smelly) demeanor, being approached by the Goatman is a good omen, as he is said to warn travellers of impending accidents and guide them through dangerous stretches of road. The real GOAT.

Mothman

One of the most infamous and beloved cryptids, Mothman technically lives out in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, but what better time for a cryptid to use up those Airpoints than when everyone is cosying up inside their homes? Mothman was first spotted in the 1960’s, and has been cropping up in urban folklore ever since. Described as a 6-8 foot moth-ish humanoid with red eyes and an impressive wingspan, Mothman has reached the highest echelons of cryptid fame by having an annual festival held in his honour, and ‘mothmania’ has inspired a truly magnificent following (including a Mothman anthem set to the tune of YMCA). So, keep your eyes keen and your lamps ready…. 

Mothman IMG_2215“Mothman IMG_2215” by OZinOH is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

So make the most of our quiet streets by keeping an eye out for some of Aotearoa’s more unusual fauna. Even if you’re just spotting some of our beautiful native birds then it’d be worth it. And who knows?

Maybe that tui only looks like a tui when you’re watching……

For more information, check out the WCL trove to prepare for any future cryptozoological adventures.

Cryptid creatures : a field guide / Halls, Kelly Milner
“Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious creatures that fall between the realm of real and imaginary on the scientific spectrum. Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide offers a closer look at fifty of these amazing creatures, examining the best possible evidence for each, including scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and credible eyewitness accounts. The fifty cryptids are arranged in order alphabetically, and in addition to speculative illustrations, include details like when they were first reported, whether they are terrestrial, aerial, or aquatic, and each have a reality rating of 1 to 6, in which 1 means that the cryptid has been confirmed as a hoax, and 6 means the cryptid has been proven as real. This page-turning guide will inspire curious readers to investigate more on their own, and maybe even help to prove if a cryptid is a hoax or is real.” (Catalogue)

Abominable science! : origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and other famous cryptids / Loxton, Daniel
“Loxton and Prothero complete an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on demonstrably false phenomena, presenting both the arguments for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience perpetuating their myths.” (Catalogue)

Monsters : a bestiary of the bizarre / Dell, Christopher
“From myth to manga, an artistic visual history of the human mind through an imaginative collection of fantastical monsters from around the world.” (Catalogue)

Monstrous : the lore, gore, and science behind your favorite monsters / Beccia, Carlyn
“Carlyn Beccia presents werewolves, vampires, zombies and more as you’ve never seen them. Discover the origins of eight scream-worthy monsters, find out how major historical events shaped their creation, and delve into the science behind these fearful beasts. Engrossing (and gross!) timelines, maps, and infographics offer essential information — including the zombie virus life cycle and how to survive Godzilla’s nuclear breath.” (Catalogue)