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An incoming tide was this morning beginning to close in around a group of whales which restranded overnight at Golden Bay.
Department of Conservation conservation services manager John Mason said 50 whales which stranded at Triangle Flat, Farewell Split, were refloated last night but had stranded again about 1km southwest near Puponga overnight.
Of those, one had died.
By mid-morning today, another three had died.
DoC staff and volunteers are waiting for high tide after midday before trying to refloat the survivors.
Mr Mason warned this could be the last chance to save the whales, with ex-tropical Cyclone June due to bring gale-force winds to the area tomorrow.
"These whales have to get out today if they want to make it," he said.
The tide was beginning to come in around the whales by 10.30am.
About 80 volunteers had turned up today to help with the whales and more may be coming.
"We are very grateful so many people have called wanting to help and have come to assist. We are also very pleased to have had the help of trained Project Jonah volunteers over the weekend and today assisting," Mr Mason said.
The whales are thought to be from a pod of about 70 which stranded at Farewell Spit at the weekend.
Some have died and, despite the best efforts of rescuers, the remainder keep restranding.
Last week eight whales were euthanised after stranding themselves twice at Farewell Spit. A ninth whale, which had not been seen at the beach, also had to be put down after it became stranded.
Last week 27 pilot whales had to be put down after becoming beached at the spit. A further 12 had already died from natural causes after being stranded.