The stranding, in an isolated part of Stewart Island, off the coast of the South Island, was the largest in New Zealand since 250 pilot whales died last year in one of the worst such incidents in the country’s history.
The Department of Conservation said Monday that as many as 145 whales beached themselves at Mason Bay, on the island’s west side, where they were discovered by a hiker on Saturday afternoon.
The Department of Conservation asked volunteers to help with the re-floating of the whales.
As Many As 145 Pilot Whales Die Stranded On Remote New Zealand Island Over the weekend a hiker was tramping across Stewart Island, a remote locale in New Zealand's far southern regions, when the crest of a hill brought an unsettling vista into view: scores of dead pilot whales washed ashore on the beach.
145 pilot whales die in stranding on New Zealand beach.
"Factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, or extreme weather," the New Zealand Department of Conservation explained.
More than 140 beached whales died in New Zealand, with half being euthanized by conservation workers after their discovery came too late to rescue them
The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanize," Department of Conservation Rakiura manager Ren Leppens said in the statement.
As many as 145 whales have died after being found stranded on a remote beach in New Zealand, conservation officials say
The whales were found Saturday on the remote Stewart Island beach, which is also called Rakiura, according to a statement from New Zealand's Department of Conservation.
More than 140 pilot whales die in heartbreaking New Zealand stranding
Officials have not yet given up hope on one of those incidents, a stranding on Sunday that left 10 pygmy killer whales washed ashore near New Zealand's northernmost tip.
Meanwhile, the department was appealing to the public for help saving another eight whales that stranded themselves in a likely unrelated incident on Ninety Mile Beach, on the opposite side of the country.
More than 145 pilot whales die after mass stranding on a New Zealand beach.
Across a period of several days last year, more than 650 pilot whales beached themselves on a thin strip of land projecting off New Zealand's South Island.
The beached whales on Stewart Island were discovered in two separate groups, or pods, just as several other whale deaths and strandings were reported around the country over the weekend.
Up to 145 whales die after mass stranding in New Zealand