Hope remains for stranded pilot whales

19:31, Jan 15 2014

An Invercargill family were among the volunteers who were yesterday trying to refloat eight pilot whales that restranded on Farewell Spit after being rescued on Tuesday night.

Thirteen whales stranded. DOC said five had died.

Hank Oudhoff, of Invercargill, who was taking care of a large whale with his family, said helping the whales was an amazing experience. "They know you're helping them."

Oldest son Kirk said it was a "bit of a change from rearing cattle". Youngest son Travis said saving the whales felt "awesome".

The Oudhoffs are on holiday in the region.

Department of Conservation conservation services manager John Mason said there were enough volunteers, including DOC staff, with the whales yesterday and the mood was "optimistic".


"We're hoping, with a boat, we can encourage them to go out.

"Sometimes they're responsive to it, sometimes they're not."

DOC staff lost sight of the other 55 whales in the pod that were still at sea, due to choppy conditions.

The whales are about 7km along the eastern side of Farewell Spit.

Strong winds chilled the volunteers as they worked to care for the whales. Many were holidaymakers visiting Farewell Spit, who were recruited to help with the early stages of the rescue.

Anze Slivnik and Tina Pirh, of Slovenia, said they were out walking when a girl asked them to help.

The Southland Times