After Marlborough Weekly broke the news of a possible big cat sighting last week, other people have come forward with similar revelations. Paula Hulburt reports.
She opened the curtains and froze in shock – a panther was prowling down the road towards the house.
Hot on the heels of a big-cat sighting near Ward last week, another Marlborough woman has spoken out of her own big cat encounter.
The woman, who asked not to be named, says she had been in Twizel in Canterbury late last year when she spotted the animal early one morning.
“It was only a few metres away; a huge, cat-like animal. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“It was about the height of a German Shepherd but much longer with an enormous tail. It was taking huge steps but didn’t seem to be in a hurry,” she says.
The house was situated in a new development that was still underway, surrounded by forest and huge piles of earth.
But by the time the woman had ran for her camera, the cat was leaving.
“I knew I wasn’t seeing things but couldn’t believe my eyes a really but the time I ran to get my camera he had disappeared.
‘He looked very healthy and his coat was shiny, so I guess finding food hasn’t been a problem.
“I started to worry about kids in the area and what might happen so rang the police to report it,” she says.
A spokeswoman from Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed there had been sightings reported to them over the years.
But she says investigations had concluded them to be of a “large feral cat.”
“There have been around 18 notifications of sightings of a large cat since 2000, in both the north and south islands. As expected, notifications often come in clusters following an initial report in the media.
“Investigations have been carried out over the years and no evidence has ever been found to suggest the presence of an exotic feline. For example – paw prints reported in 2006 were confirmed to be those of a dog.
“Examination of photographs, scat, hair and faeces samples from various places throughout New Zealand (associated with reported sightings) have also concluded the sightings to be that of either a dog or a large feral cat.”