Rescuers twice failed to refloat a whale that stranded on a South Wairarapa beach and the mammal had to be put down yesterday. Before the decision was made to put the weakened whale out of its misery Department of Conversation Wairarapa operations manager Kathy Houkamau had said a failed attempt meant rescuers would "regroup and decide what we do from here".

"Sadly, we were not been able to successfully refloat the whale. We threw everything at it in pretty testing conditions and the DOC team and locals did manage to get it into the water," she said. "But the light dropped off sharply and with the waves rolling in, it was actually quite unsafe to be in the water with the whale, and it didn't appear to have what it takes to swim away."

The 5.2m-long Cuvier's beaked whale was discovered marooned on the remote Whangaimoana Beach on the South Wairarapa coast on Wednesday afternoon. The animal was believed to be a male, weighing about 2 tonnes. A lack of light foiled a rescue attempt at high tide about 5pm on Wednesday and the same difficulties thwarted the second attempt on Thursday despite a team of DOC rangers also being on hand.