More than 400 pilot whales are stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay. The Department of Conservation says more than half of them have died.
Reports in the local newspaper Nelson Mail says it's imperative to keep the remaining whales alive until high tide at 10.30am. Volunteers are being asked to head down to the beach immediately.
DOC Golden Bay operations manager Andrew Lamason told Nelson Mail that the whales were first spotted swimming close to shore by a DOC ranger in the area late last night. At first light this morning the stranding was confirmed.
It's said to be the biggest whale stranding in New Zealand in recent times.
In 2011, 70 pilot whales were stranded in the same area.
Further details to follow.