Two beef cattle and a calf which survived yesterday's earthquake stranded on a small island of land should be allowed to retire and live out their days in a sanctuary, animal rights group Peta says.

The cattle and calf were filmed stranded on a tiny outcrop of land, huddling together for safety, surrounded by collapsed earth from landslides near Kaikoura yesterday, following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that rattled the country.

The cows were rescued earlier today, after catching the world's attention when their plight was captured on camera.

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Now Peta Australia has released a statement requesting the cows be allowed to retire.

"New Zealand residents, and people all around the world, urged authorities to rescue these cows when they were stranded after the earthquake, but now that they are back on solid ground, their future safety is shaky at best," Ashley Fruno, associate director of campaigns at Peta Australia said.

"Cows used for their milk are forcibly impregnated, have their babies torn from them at only a few days old and often suffer from mastitis, lameness and other painful ailments.

"Whether used for their milk or their flesh, in the end all cows are crammed onto trucks and transported to abattoirs where their throats are slit and they are skinned and gutted.

"Peta is calling on the farmer to allow these animals to live out the rest of their lives in peace at a sanctuary, instead of being torn into pieces."

The trio of cows gained world-wide attention after they were shown huddled on the small grassy earthquake island yesterday, with people urging authorities to rescue them. The image of them trapped and surrounded by muddy landslides also became the stuff of memes.

urging Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy to ensure the cows were rescued.

Dr Chris Brown from Bondi Vet was among those following the cows' plight:

The farmer who owns the cows reportedly told Newshub today that the animals were desperate for water when they were rescued.

He told the network the cows were part of a herd of 14 that were rescued after the earthquake.

"We dug a track with a number of people - the soil was quite soft because it had all been tipped over and bumbled around, we managed to get a track in and bring them out," Newshub reported him as saying.

"They desperately needed water, cows don't like living without water so that was the first requirement, and I think one or two had lost calves in the earthquake so they were a bit distressed."