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Stunning hole punch cloud wows upper North Island

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A stunning cloud formation – a Fallstreak Hole, or Hole-Punch Cloud – captured over Kaiwaka. Photo / Supplied

Residents in the upper North Island have been wowed by a stunning cloud formation known as a hole punch cloud.

A Kaiwaka resident who saw it said it was a bit scary and looked so bizarre they wondered whether it was nuclear or something alien.

“We have never seen anything like it before.”

They rushed to take photos of the circular hole in the sky and managed to capture it lingering above a country road lined with trees.

“We’re a bit spiritual about nature and natural phenomena. After some research, we found it’s got something to do with the different air temperatures. Very cool though.”

MetService posted on Facebook on Thursday that Aucklanders had been treated to a “stunning cloud formation” known as a fallstreak hole or hole punch cloud.

“These are triggered when an aircraft passes through a layer of higher-level clouds. These clouds are made up of water droplets that are below 0°C but are not frozen (known as ‘supercooled water’),” MetService said.

“As the aircraft passes through the cloud layer, the disruption of the air around it (similar to the air movement you feel when a truck passes you) disrupts the droplets, causing them to freeze then form into raindrops and fall from the cloud layer – this is what gives the appearance of a wispy cloud falling out of the cloud layer.”

The MetService post said precipitation like this which does not reach the ground is referred to as a virga.

People commented on the Facebook post to share their sightings of the cloud formation.

One spotted it from a walk up Mt Hobson on Great Barrier Island, while another shared a picture their neighbour had taken while out fishing at Omaha Bay.

Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.

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