Christchurch photographer captures rare weather event at Halswell Quarry

A Christchurch photographer may be just the third person in New Zealand to capture a weather phenomenon known as a red sprite, rare bolts of red lightning rarely seen from the ground because of their high altitude.

Ethan Takerei, who runs Ethan Haze Photography, was in bed last Sunday when he saw a forecast that a major storm was about to hit the South Island.

He leaped out of bed, packed up his gear, and headed to Halswell Quarry.

A Christchurch photographer has become the third person in the country to capture a rare weather...
A Christchurch photographer has become the third person in the country to capture a rare weather phenomenon known as a red sprite. Photo: Ethan Takerei / Instagram /
"We did have a high wind warning and I did want to track the storm down south but I thought it was too dangerous to go ahead with that plan so I stuck to my own neighbourhood," he said.

He found a spot up on a hill, thinking he would get some night-time storm photos but was not feeling confident he would capture a rare sprite.

"I thought I would have to travel to America to see them, I never thought I'd be able to see them from home."

But Takerei lucked it when the phenomenon happened right in front of his eyes within five minutes of him arriving.

"I continued to film the storm and to see how I would capture the sprites, not knowing how I would do it or what settings I was going to use on my camera."

Ethan Takerei. Photo: Ethan-Haze Photography / Facebook
Ethan Takerei. Photo: Ethan-Haze Photography / Facebook
He checked the photos on his camera and was over the moon when he saw he had captured the sprites.

He spent the next five hours taking photos and got home about 3am.

"It worked out very well for me, I'm still ecstatic today. I'm so over the moon being the third in New Zealand to capture it."

Red sprites are rarely seen from the ground and form 50-90km above Earth and last only a few milliseconds.

Larryn Rae, who runs Shadow and Shade photography, was the first person to capture a red sprite in New Zealand in 2018. The picture was taken accidentally when he set up a time-lapse during an astrophotography workshop at Te Arai beach north of Auckland.

The second person was Brendan Gully who captured the sprites from the Kāpiti Coast in April this year.

It is possible that somebody has captured the sprites unknowingly but Takerei appears to be the third documented case.

He has been a hobby photographer for 12 years but spent the last two years hoping to capture the weather event.

"I could not believe it, I had to stop taking photos so I could view them on the back of my camera. I had a little scream to myself, in the pitch black, which is what I do when I find an awesome photo and I know that I'm coming home with something cool."

Takerei thanked Rae for inspiring him.

"He messaged me saying, welcome to the sprite family, which I thought was awesome."

To follow more of Takerei's photography, visit his page on Instagram.








Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter