Volunteers and whale experts were still trying Tuesday to save about 40 pilot whales more than a day after almost 100 of the animals beached themselves at the top of New Zealand's South Island.
A whale rescue group said 34 of the whales had so far died on the sand at Farewell Spit since the pod grounded at about 11 a.m. Monday, despite efforts to keep them alive until the high tide arrived.
The Department of Conservation issued a statement Tuesday saying 40 whales remained stranded on the beach after failing to refloat on Tuesday morning's high tide.
"The whales have now restranded and rescuers will continue to keep them comfortable until nightfall. It is hoped that the whales will refloat themselves on the high tide at 11.30 p.m. tonight," said the statement.
A group of about 17 whales refloated themselves over Monday night and were swimming well off shore and not considered to be in immanent danger of restranding, it said.
Department staff and volunteers had covered the whales in wet sheets to keep them comfortable.
The stranding is the latest in a series around the coast of New Zealand this month.
The whales were in the same area where 25 were stranded earlier this month, 18 of which were refloated.
Four Gray's beaked whales two lactating females and two juveniles died after being stranded on Papamoa Beach, on the east of the North Island over the weekend.