No surviving pilot whales left at Farewell Spit, DoC hopeful some have made it out to sea

49 whales beached themselves on Farewell Spit on Monday.
49 whales beached themselves on Farewell Spit on Monday. Photo credit: Project Jonah

There are no living pilot whales left on Farewell Spit near Golden Bay, the Department of Conservation (DoC) says - but there's hope some have made it back out to sea after being refloated.

On Monday, 49 whales beached themselves on the spit at the northern tip of the South Island. Nine died on the first day, with the survivors refloated at high tide.

However on Tuesday, 28 of the whales beached again after surviving the night.

It's not yet known how many made it back out to sea, but DoC says no survivors remain on Farewell Spit on Wednesday.

DoC says rangers carried out a search along the section of the inner spit and nearby beaches, but no live whales were found on those.

"It is hoped the pilot whales that spent yesterday swimming offshore from Farewell Spit have made their way out to sea," a spokesperson said.

Some dead whales from the stranding were located on Farewell Spit and a couple of others on nearby beaches - but DoC is unsure of the number of dead whales for now, as their bodies can move in the tides.  

DoC rangers will move the dead whales to a pit in an area of Farewell Spit away from public use, and representatives of Manawhenua Ki Mohua - an entity made up of three local iwi: Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa - will say a karakia.

DoC has thanked marine mammal medics from Project Jonah and members of the public who have assisted with keeping the whales alive and refloating them this week.