More than 120 whales have died in separate beachings on New Zealand’s two main islands.
The Department of Conservation says 21 pilot whales will be buried by Coromandel Maori on Monday after dying when they became stranded on Sunday.
Sixty-three whales, mostly cows with calves, beached themselves at Colville Bay, north of Coromandel township, on the North Island’s east coast.
The 3-4 metre whales were seen by fishermen struggling about 300m offshore around 6am and they called emergency services.
About two thirds were saved by locals and holidaymakers who kept the surviving whales wet in the low tide until it rose in the early afternoon and they could be refloated.
DOC spokeswoman for the area Lyn Williams said none of those whales had returned to the beach overnight.
“They were last seen they were swimming healthily out to the ocean,” she said.
One of the cows gave birth to a calf almost immediately after being refloated.
The 21 dead whales were being watched over last night by local iwi Ngati Tamatera before a burial ceremony today.
Meanwhile, 105 long-finned pilot whales died at Farewell Spit at the top of the South Island on Saturday.
DOC Golden Bay biodiversity program manager Hans Stoffregen told The Southland Times none of the stranded pod survived.
Because the site is in a natural reserve, the whale carcasses have been left to decompose.