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“Incredibly rare” multiple rainbow seen in Orewa, Auckland (+Photos)

Updated Saturday PM — A triple rainbow has been seen in the skies of Orewa, north of Auckland, following a very unsettled end to June that brought a mix of rain and sun across the country. reader Caroline Keen took this amazing photo.  “Light showers. Early morning. The primary and secondary rainbows are obvious. But notice the third rainbow that is at an angle to these two. It’s colours are in the same order as those of the primary rainbow. What would cause this spurious rainbow?” asked Caroline after uploading the photo to us on June 28th.

So reached out to our friends at CNN Weather about this specific photo, to see if they could explain it simply. Here’s their response:

“Wow- triple rainbows are incredibly rare” Meteorologist and Supervising Weather Producer Brandon Miller told us.  “They form the same way as single or double rainbows (light being refracted, reflected, and dispersed inside raindrops), but the light must be reflected 3 times to make a triple rainbow- and each time the light is dispersed more and the resulting rainbow is fainter’.

Brandon Miller says the other thing that makes triple rainbows hard to see is that the third and faintest rainbow forms on the sun-side as opposed to the side facing away from the sun like the single and double rainbow.  “That means you must look into the sun’s glare to see them, which makes them almost impossible to see”.


The photo and story above has prompted a few people to contact us with their eyewitness experiences with multiple rainbows.  

BELOW: “Taken at low tide on the shore of the wetlands where Pt Chev meets the North Western motorway [Auckland], looking east, 9th June 2013. I notice the colours of the middle rainbow appear to be inverted.” – Matt Simpkins.



Guest on 1/07/2016 1:57am

It looks to me like there might be a fourth rainbow in that photo.  To the left of the three, but very faint, and parallel with the middle rainbow.  Am I the only one that notices this, or am I seeing things?




Kat on 1/07/2016 7:21am

I agree. It’s a smidge and goes pretty much straight up. 

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