A rescue mission is underway for a pod of pilot whales that have stranded near Colville in the Coromandel Peninsula this morning.
The Department of Conservation says roughly 25 of the mammals have stranded on mudflats at the site, and the next high tide isn't until 9pm this evening.
It comes after Project Jonah received multiple calls from concerned locals about the pilot whales, a member of the dolphin family, that were swimming in "very shallow, muddy water", the marine mammal protection organisation said on Facebook.
There are between 40 to 60 pilot whales involved, DOC told 1 NEWS.
"They are in two separate pods: a shallow stranding which we are currently managing (keep the animals comfortable), the other pod is further out and we are shepherding those out to sea."
DOC is asking the public to stay away from the site in order for crews to work effectively.
"We appreciate public’s concern and we have staff on-site who are accepting items such as buckets, blankets or food for our staff to contribute to the effort – but a key point for us is asking the public to stay away from the site to allow us to do our job.
"We have six DOC staff on-site, and they are supported by rural fire brigade and members of the local iwi."
Project Jonah earlier advised the public that a mass response was not needed.