10 Dec 2018

Mystery yellow spots have Waitara residents looking to the sky

6:52 pm on 10 December 2018

A mysterious substance showing up on buildings and cars has left the residents of Mouatt Street in the Taranaki township of Waitara scratching their heads.

Waitara resident Rex Brunning washes his car more often than usual to get some mysterious yellow droppings off it.

Waitara resident Rex Brunning washes his car more often than usual to get some mysterious yellow droppings off it. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The yellow spots have been appearing on and off for years, but recently the problem has got particularly bad.

Resident Rex Brunning was washing his car when RNZ came to visit - and not for the first time today.

"I washed this spotless about an hour and a half a go and now it's got these droppings all over it again so I'm just wiping it off."

Mr Brunning said the car needs a scrub more often than not at the moment.

"I'm not washing it every day but to get it off you'd be at it every day. There's that much on there."

Mr Brunning said the oily and waxy material could be difficult to remove.

"If it's been on there a day or two, s--t it's hard to get off. You've got to wash it with water and then come over it with detergent car wash, I've got to get it off."

Next door neighbour Kim Marshall was also fed up.

"Yeah every day you go out if you wash your car it's back there the next day.

"It's kinda yellowy spots on your car and it's quite hard to get off and kinda sticky. And I don't know whether you can see it but it happens on the shed as well."

Ms Marshall said the spots had everyone baffled.

"Yeah, it's a bit of a mystery really. It would be good to get to the bottom of it though because poor old Rex he cleans his car more than us but yeah it's like every day it's a nightmare to have to go out and clean everything."

Mouatt Street is on the flight path to New Plymouth and Mr Brunning's wife, Kay, said they had been told the splatters might be something to do with dumped aviation fuel.

"We had our windows double glazed and I sort of apologised for the mess on the outside of the windows to the guy who did the work.

"He said to me 'don't worry about it, it's jet fuel' and I thought that could be what it is, but [it] has just got worse and worse."

Yellow droppings on buildings and cars in Waitara have left residents puzzled.

Yellow droppings on buildings and cars in Waitara have left residents puzzled. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Mr Brunning washed the family cars early this morning to put that theory to the test.

"The planes sort of went out. There's a few there. I rubbed it all off again and waited for the next plane, but in the meantime there was more blimmin' droppings come so it cancelled the planes out."

Air New Zealand concurred with Mr Brunning.

It said that the turboprop aircraft that operated from New Plymouth airport did not have the ability to jettison fuel during flight.

In a similar case in Nelson last year, the Civil Aviation Authority put the blame on waterfowl.

If it was bird poop, Tina Nicholson, who lived directly across the road from the Brunnings, hadn't noticed it.

"No, not that we've noticed. I think it must go straight over our house and hit them."

Ms Nicholson said the neighbourhood was mystified.

"Yeah it is. It looks like pollen to me."

Ms Brunning said she had also heard of the pollen theory from a woman in Tauranga.

"She said to me that the yellow orange substance that we are having a problem with is bee droppings and honey based so that sort of makes sense to us because at the bottom of some of the droppings it's kind of a yellowy colour, but I don't know what it is."

Apiculture New Zealand board member Ricki Leahy believes that tip from Tauranga was right on the money.

"It can often happen at certain times of year if there's a place with bee hives nearby. When they fly out they cleanse themselves. In other words they have a little poo when they are flying out and you do get little spots from it.

"It's particularly annoying for people if they've just put the washing out."

Mr Leahy said most beekeepers would move hives if they knew the bee poop was annoying their neighbours.