The Department of Conservation [DoC] plans to ramp up search efforts for the pod of stranded orca calf Toa as a window of fine weather opens.
The calf was moved back into a sea pen near the Plimmerton boat ramp overnight after it was determined it would be in the best interest of the orca's health.
DoC marine species manager Ian Angus said Toa had reacted well to the change of environment.
"As soon as the calf was back in the sea, he started calling and zooming around the pen."
The juvenile orca aged between 3 and 6 months was found stranded on rocks at Plimmerton beach near Porirua on July 11.
Search efforts over the past 12 days to find the calf's pod have been so far unsuccessful, leaving him in the care of DoC, Whale Rescue and volunteers.
Angus said plans to increase the search efforts were being pulled together as fine weather is forecast until Sunday.
"We remain focused on trying to find the orca calf's pod. Our efforts will be focused on the lower half of the North Island and upper half of the South Island.
"However, we are still calling for people to report any sightings from anywhere in the country, as New Zealand orca can travel up to 160km a day."
Toa had been kept in a 32,000-litre temporary pool since last Thursday after a storm that hit the Wellington region threatened to put volunteers and the animal at risk.
Marine biologist Dr Ingrid Visser said he was relived to be out of the temporary pool.
"He's increased the speed of his swims and he's also starting to spend a bit more time underwater.
"He's starting to look more like a little whale, which is exciting to see."
Visser said there had been no sightings this morning.
"We have got the call out going obviously throughout the whole of New Zealand.
"We are concentrated on sightings in this area because that's our best chance to get him back to the family."
She said he remained on a nutrition formula that was being reviewing constantly.
The Plimmerton Boating Club site remains closed to the public to reduce stress on the orca calf.
Angus said all decisions were being made based on the health and wellbeing of the calf, and DoC was planning thoroughly for a range of options.
• Anyone who sights orca pods is urged to provide as much information as possible to DoC, via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0800 DOC HOT. Essential information includes location of the pod, direction of travel of the animals, and photographs or videos which clearly show the saddle/back markings of the animals and their dorsal fins.