Volunteers and rangers have left 48 whales that have re-stranded at Farewell Spit for the night, in the hope they will refloat on the incoming high tide and move off.
The pilot whales began to strand there again shortly before 4.30pm on Sunday after being refloated and swimming at sea for several hours.
They were cared for by about 40 volunteers until dark, when all helpers and DoC staff had to leave because it was too risky to stay.
Earlier on Sunday afternoon, the department had attempted to refloat the pod of 62. Two whales died in that attempt, while 10 did not follow the main group out to sea and ended up back along the Spit coast.
DoC says of those 10, two died, and eight were euthanised.
On Sunday morning nine whales died and on Saturday 40 whales were found at the beach and despite attempts by volunteers they all either died or beached again overnight.
DoC says rangers will look for the whales at daybreak on Monday.