South Island flooding: Horror scenes as dead cattle wash up on beaches following severe weather

The wild West Coast beaches surrounding Westport were the scenes of horror on Monday after hundreds of cattle washed up following the floods.

It's still unclear how many animals were lost when the floodwaters rose. 

Contractors are now tasked with the grim clean-up after a weekend of severe weather and flooding.

The historic floods have wiped out hundreds of animals across many farms, but what's worse is many of the cows were heavily pregnant.

"Really, really devastating for the farmers involved. Those cows would have been heavily in calf, ready to calf in the next few weeks," says Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine.

Local contractors have been working day and night to remove the heavy carcasses.

"Been here while the flood was still rising, down here since Friday night picking up cows, every day all day pretty much," says Travis Belcher.

"We've got the digger and then my boyfriend's dad. He's got the truck so we've been coming down putting them on the truck," adds Tess Marie.

Some cows have travelled a long way from the upper Buller Gorge, but many farms in the area have lost stock.

"They'll be coming in for weeks, if not months, ones and twos still washing up all the way along the coast," Belcher says.

Cleine says the Rural Support Trust has been active and will be rallying around with neighbours to make sure there's support for all those who need it.