DOC hopes the whales are now in deeper water and not in immediate risk of beaching.
Meanwhile, there were still 13 whales stranded about 7km from the base of Farewell Spit (top of the South Island). A decision on whether to attempt to refloat the whales on last night's incoming tide was hampered by a strong westerly wind, which made conditions difficult and the sea rough.
Earlier yesterday, DOC rangers were in a boat following the whales, but lost sight of them in choppy seas. The pod had been watched by DOC staff since they were alerted of their presence around 8am yesterday - the first whales stranded around 11am.
This site is the same treacherous area where a pod was found beached and in distress last week. At that time a dozen pilot whales were found dead and the remaining 27 in the pod needed to be euthanised.
Last week's stranding was the first big one of the summer.
[...thanx to TV3 News]
Update: Eight whales survived the night - refloat attempt this morning.
Thursday Update: Surviving whales can't be refloated and will be euthanised.