Volunteers managed to push around 40 whales out to sea using Monday evening’s high tide. But sometime overnight, the whales beached themselves again, and only 28 survivors have been refloated since.
Helicopters being used to fight the fire have at times been diverted to douse other flare-ups in New Zealand's South Island, including one on tree- covered hills bordering Nelson city which is home to about 50,000 people.
Heavy rains brought floods to the southern city of Christchurch but the cyclone has not yet hit the island nation in full force.
The giant bird is thought to be one of the world's biggest extinct penguin species, with an average height of 1.7 metres (5.5 feet) and a weight of 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds).
A state of emergency has been declared after severe storms brought on heavy flooding which resulted in hundreds of homes being evacuated in parts of New Zealand.
More than 300 pilot whales have been killed after being stranded on a beach as rescuers desperately try to keep more from coming onshore.
Rescuers tried to help more than a hundred mammals return to sea but many got stranded again. It is relatively common for whales to get stranded on the country's beaches.
Strong aftershocks, rain and gales hamper rescue work after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake on South Island early Monday kills two people.
The powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake on the east coast of New Zealand generates a small tsunami but no significant damage or injuries reported.
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