A travel blogger who made desperate efforts to save almost 150 whales stranded on a remote Stewart Island beach says it was the "worst night of my entire life"

Liz Carlson, who lives in Wanaka and writes a travel blog called Young Adventuress, was 50kms into a five day tramp on Saturday when she and her group came across the pilot whales stranded on Mason Bay on the west coast of the island.

What followed was the "worst night" of her life, she said on Instagram.

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Saturday night was the worst night of my entire life. 50kms into a 5 day tramp on the remote west coast of Stewart Island, we were wandering back to our camp at at sunset and came across hundreds of pilot whales becoming beached in the low surf. When we realized the horror of what we were seeing, we dropped everything and ran straight into the water. Desperately we grabbed their tails and pushed and yelled, before we got hammered by them thrashing around. It was useless - they were so big and heavy and the realization we could do nothing to save them was the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. We were in a place with no people, no service, no help. @ju_riviera was a champion and took off running at 8:30pm in his wet sandy clothes and boots almost 15 kilometers back to a base hut up the bay where we knew there were DOC rangers working who would have a radio. He made it in 1.5 hours to raise the alarm, and I stayed with the whales til dark, sitting with them, dragging the smallest baby back in the water every few minutes before it would rebeach itself, and throwing water over the drier whales until my hands were numb from the water and wind. I’ll never forget their cries, the way they watched me as I sat with them in the water, how they desperately tried to swim but their weight only dug them deeper into the sands. My heart completely broke. When the realization there was no hope, it was almost dark, high tide was in the middle of the night and knowing this was one of the most remote places in New Zealand, I knew they would inevitable die. I sank to my knees in the sand screaming in frustration and crying, with the sound of dozens of dying whales behind me, utterly alone. It would take close to 1000 people to save them, more than double the whole population of Rakiura. The only positive bit was thanks to us alerting everyone, they were able to euthanize them shortly afterwards, and my heart hurts for the man who had that horrific job, and would have done anything to save them too. Otherwise it would have likely been days before anyone even knew the whales were there and a very long painful slow death for them all. I’ll never be the same after this.

A post shared by Liz Carlson☀️Young Adventuress (@youngadventuress) on

When they realised the "horror" of the scene they encountered they ran to the water and attempted to save the whales.

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They "desperately" grabbed the whales tails before getting "hammered by them thrashing around".

"It was useless - they were so big and heavy and the realization we could do nothing to save them was the worst feeling I've ever experienced."

"We were in a place with no people, no service, no help."

Seeing and hearing the whales while not being able to do anything to save them was heartbreaking, she said.

"I'll never forget their cries, the way they watched me as I sat with them in the water, how they desperately tried to swim but their weight only dug them deeper into the sands."

She said one of the group was able to contact the Department of Conservation after running 15km back to the base hut.

And while saving the whales would have been impossible, getting the message to Doc spared the whales more misery as they were euthanised shortly afterwards.

"Otherwise it would have likely been days before anyone even knew the whales were there and a very long painful slow death for them all.

She said she would "never be the same" after seeing the whales.

Doc Rakiura Operations Manager Ren Leppens said around half the whales had died by the time they were discovered, and the remaining whales had to be euthanised.

"Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales' deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanise.''