More than half of the 24 whales being refloated in the Far North this evening have made it into the water, says the Department of Conservation, but three have died.
The whales, which stranded on Spirits Bay on Wednesday, are being unloaded into the water at Rarawa Beach using lifting equipment and diggers.
DOC says most of the whales have coped with the journey, but two died en route and another at the beach, New Zealand Herald reports.
The whales first came ashore on Wednesday in the second mass stranding in the area in little over a month.
More than 50 died on their first day out of the water - including some that were injured or in severe distress that had to be put down.
Officials were loading the animals on to trucks that will carry them from Spirits Bay to Rarawa Beach, 30 miles to the south, where rescuers hope to refloat them.
"As far as I'm aware, this has not been tried before to this scale (in New Zealand)," Anton van Helden, a whale expert at New Zealand's national museum, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper.
"It's a huge undertaking and definitely contains risks for the whales, but is basically their only chance."
A pod of 58 pilot whales stranded on nearby Karikari beach in mid-August, and 101 pilot whales stranded on the same beach in 2007, according to The Press Association.
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