A dolphin and its calf which were stranded on a Hawkes Bay reef as they fled from hunting orca have been saved by holidaymakers.

David Petersen was at his beachside Blackhead Beach bach yesterday morning when he saw a pod of dolphins "going absolutely ape".

"They were jumping two or three metres out of the water and going like anything.

"Then we realised there was an orca, right inshore just outside the breakers, chasing them."


Department of Conservation ranger Rod Hansen said the dolphins sought refuge in the shallow waters of the beach and Te Angiangi Marine Reserve reef.

The pod then continued north to Aramoana Beach but two dolphins were stranded.

Mr Hansen said people on the beach saved the mother and her calf, which were caught out by the outgoing tide.

"It was really good. All the locals just got together, rolled up their sleeves and got into it."

Using beach towels as a sling, the rescuers moving the dolphins from the shallow water to the sea.

Mr Petersen said the rest of the pod returned to Blackhead Beach because of the cries of the stranded dolphins.

"They came right into the bay, right into the breakers and up to the reef."