Auckland NZ booms reported (UPDATE: Solved)

See update below.

Originally published 18 Jun 2014

Mystery booms in New Zealand rattle residents.

Mystery bangs and shaking in Auckland – national |

A series of mysterious “explosions” have been reported across west and north Auckland, but police are mystified.

Reports of loud ‘‘bangs’’ followed by houses shaking began about 5pm, in the Hibiscus Coast area.

Edwards said people had variously described the noises as sounding like gun-shots and loud explosions.

The booms made people’s houses shake, they report. Officials checked out various possibilities to no avail. There may be multiple sources or various explanations. The sonic boom explanation is not a good one in this case. An obvious explanation would be small shallow quakes in this very seismically active area. Such small quakes might not be caught on equipment.

Some mystery booms are small shallow earthquakes, like Moodus noises

Mystery booms continue in New York state

Booms near Richmond (Carytown) may be seismic-related

Booms in Guthrie may be linked to Thursday quake

These mystery noises are very common and affect many communities worldwide. Check out our coverage of news stories on mysterious booms that have various or no obvious explanation. The world is a noisy place.

UPDATE (19-Jun-2014): Auckland’s mystery bangs: Culprit revealed | NZ Herald News.

Defence Force explosive training was behind a series of booms reported around Auckland. This range is regularly used but it seems “a prevailing westerly wind coupled with low cloud cover have amplified the sound from the explosions,” a spokeswoman said. That sort of thing can be deceptive. Living about 10km away from such a range, I notice that on occasion, military exercises will shake the house and make the dog bark. Other times, it’s hardly noticable. Weather conditions do contribute to the variability.

  7 comments for “Auckland NZ booms reported (UPDATE: Solved)

  1. Bill D'Arcy
    June 18, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I checked on New Zealand’s GeoNet website for candidate earthquakes. The best I could access was a magnitude 2.4 event at 6:45:13 pm, about 140 miles ESE of Auckland. See

    (They display only the past 4 hours of the most recent activity on their seismograph drum trace displays, and I haven’t worked out how to access their archive for 5 pm yesterday… 18 hours ago. Their database filters the smallest events from earlier times, and I couldn’t access any potential 5 pm events.)

    New Zealand is both prosperous and seismically active, so you’d expect their seismic network to be of a high standard. As such they categorize their (seismograph-detected) earthquakes’ intensities as unnoticeable, weak, light, moderate, strong and severe; so I don’t think there is much scope for an earthquake strong enough to alarm people that wouldn’t be detected on a seismogram. A spot check shows them locating weak earthquakes down to magnitude 2.0; their unnoticeable category is mainly distant tremors (magnitude around 3+) out in the Pacific, where distance from seismic stations has reduced their intensity.

    In short, I don’t think GeoNet would miss a felt earthquake.Some other cause of the noise?

    PS for the geologists out there… The Pacific plate is subducting obliquely under North Island… active volcanoes and earthquakes including deep ones. The plate boundary in South Island is aligned near-parallel to the motion vector of the Pacific plate, so it is expressed as the essentially transform Alpine Fault… think San Andreas Fault system, plenty of shallower earthquakes, but no active volcanoes.

  2. Bill D'Arcy
    June 18, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Update…. I accessed the Great Barrier Island: ( and Kuaotuna ( seismographs.

    These sites are a little east of Auckland, and 5 pm their time would be between the 20 and 18 hours-ago line traces… seismically very quiet.

  3. Scott Ray
    June 19, 2014 at 1:10 AM

    NZ Army has admitted likely responsibility for the explosions.

  4. James G
    June 19, 2014 at 2:09 AM

    There’s always a reasonable explanation!

    This story got my attention a while back because they managed to capture the mystery sound on video (and I didn’t see it coverage here).

    Better yet, the second link is the video that was posted to Facebook, and the response it generated. Even after the sound was explained, many would not accept the explanation.

  5. Sam
    June 19, 2014 at 3:21 AM

    Royal New Zealand Air Force rather than the Army. “NZDF” is the collective term for NZ’s armed forces.

  6. Mark Scurry
    June 19, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Has anyone noticed in stories like this, that police are always mystified and scientists are always baffled? It’s never the other way around.

  7. Chris
    June 19, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Ah, yes. These stories always give me a nostalgic twinge as I remember living in towns that start with the word “Fort” where one could hear artillery practice booming in the distance. Just part of being an Army brat.

    My dad retired near an Army post, which pretty much is the source of income for the attached civilian town. Which has its benefits. Years ago we visited during the Fourth of July celebration where the fireworks display included the local Army band and choir, accompanied by an actual modern cannon. The young man in uniform very graciously explained how it worked and showed our kids the “blank” that when fired only produced “fireworks” in front as it exited the cannon and a big bang noise.

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