The pod of pilot whales re-floated in Golden Bay yesterday evening this morning re-stranded in the same area as yesterday, with a number having died.
However, shortly after 11am today, DOC told 1 NEWS some of the whales had started swimming away but others are milling around not far from shore.
"At this stage, it’s unclear whether the whales that are offshore from the spit might re-strand in the outgoing tide or swim off," DOC said.
DOC rangers in a boat are following and monitoring the whales that have swum off.
About 28 of the whales are alive on Farewell Spit and DOC rangers, Project Jonah marine mammal medics and other volunteers have been working to re-float the whales. It was high tide around 8am.
"We haven’t got exact numbers of whales alive and dead at this time,” a DOC spokesperson said in a statement earlier this morning.
DOC rangers and about 50 volunteers started searching for the whales on the coast at first light this morning and the pod was found around 7am.