Teenager Andrew Wilkinson captured an apparently fiery object in the Canterbury sky on his digital camera last night.

Canterbury fiery object
©Andrew Wilkinson
Teenager Andrew Wilkinson captured this mysterious picture of a fiery trail in the sky above Christchurch.

Wilkinson, 17, photographed the object, from his Halswell home at 7.27pm.

He said it was too slow to be a meteor or a plane, and wondered if it might be satellite debris in the western sky.

A handful of other observant Cantabrians also spotted the orange ribbon standing out brightly in the dusk.

"I got the camera and took a photo. It was moving extremely slowly, so I thought it might have been a plane for a minute. The front looked like a fireball.

"I didn't hear any noise. It looks like it might have been extremely high up, given the speed it was moving," he said.

Police southern communications shift supervisor Trevor Cross said he received one phone call about the phenomenon. A policeman at Oxford also saw it and thought it might be a vapour trail.

The superintendent of the University of Canterbury's Mount John Observatory at Tekapo, Alan Gilmore , said his "immediate reaction" was it was a plane.

"The slowness would be due to the plane's movement. I assume from the contrail's angle that it is a plane heading for Australia," Gilmore said. "The trail doesn't look at all like a meteor or space-debris trail."