Forty-six pilot whales have been refloated and are swimming in deep water in New Zealand's Golden Bay, but it's too early to say they won't re-strand, the Department of Conservation says.
The whales were refloated about 11.30am (0930 AEDT) on Monday following the efforts of experts and more than 100 volunteers after repeated strandings at Farewell Spit, at the top of South Island, over the weekend.
Three whales died at Puponga in the morning, but the remaining 46 were swimming strongly, DOC spokeswoman Trish Grant says.
They were being monitored by DOC rangers in a boat.
"It is too early to tell yet whether the whales will avoid re-stranding again as they are still in the area of Farewell Spit but rescuers are hopeful they will this time make it safely out to sea," she said.
Dozens of whales have stranded on the Spit over the weekend, with more than 30 dying or being put down.
A total of 71 whales were found on the beach on Sunday morning, including eight dead, spread over 1.6km.
On Saturday morning, 53 whales stranded, including 13 which died.
The weekend's strandings were the third at Farewell Spit this summer.
Whale strandings are common on the 24-kilometre long Farewell Spit. The topography is believed to confuse the whales and they often beach themselves again after being refloated.