An orca whale that died on a Northland beach is set to be buried in the sand dunes.
The whale, which was about five metres long, was first noticed in Mangawhai early this morning.
A local Department of Conservation marine ranger Marie Jordan said the orca appeared to have recently given birth.
It was not known what led to the whale getting stuck.
"I think it must have come in overnight and it was just noticed this morning. It was very fresh.
"There was quite significant bruising around it so it probably stranded alive during the night then died by the time people saw it this morning. I think it first got spotted about 7am this morning."
While whale strandings aren't fully understood, there are several theories. One theory involves calving whales, which seek out sheltered bays to give birth, and might strand if they come too close to the shore.
Local iwi have given permission for samples to be taken from the orca before it is buried.
A burial hole has been dug in the dunes.