More than 100 pilot whales are dead after a stranding on Stewart Island.
A pod of 107 whales was found beached at Mason Bay on the island by two tourists on Saturday.
The pair, who had tramped into Mason Bay hut on the west coast of the island on Saturday, found the pod dead and dying at the southern end of the beach near Cavalier Creek.
It was the next day before they could raise the alarm via the hut ranger at Mason Bay hut.
Two Department of Conservation staff immediately flew to the beach yesterday to assess the situation.
Once there, they found the whales in water but stranded high up on the beach with the tide just starting to recede.
Department biodiversity programme manager Brent Beaven said about half of the whales were still alive on arrival and the decision was made to euthanise the remaining 48.
It would have been at least 10 to 12 hours before any attempt could be made to refloat them, Mr Beaven said.
- The Southland Times