Andrew Lamason, the departments regional manager, said it was one of the largest mass beaching recorded in New Zealand. Between 250-300 whales at Farewell Spit were dead when they were found. Volunteers are racing to rescue survivors since early Friday morning, and have formed a human chain to refloat the whales. The surviving whales are “being kept cool, calm and comfortable” by medics and members of the public. About 100 whales had been refloated but some of them tried to swim back to shore, and the human chain was trying to herd them out to deeper waters. There are concerns that a number of whales rescued could re-strand themselves overnight. It is too dangerous to work with the huge animals in pitch black conditions. The next available high tide is on Saturday morning. In February 2015 about 200 whales beached themselves at the same location, of which at least half died.