A Southern Bottlenose whale has died after becoming stranded on a beach in Timaru.
A Department of Conservation spokesperson said the hotline was contacted at about 5.45pm on Tuesday by members of the public.
Project Jonah was alerted as was Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua.
Local Project Jonah volunteers went to South Beach as did two Department of Conservation staff members.
The whale was a small Southern Bottlenose. They are beaked whales which are a deep-water species. It's likely that this whale was unwell, they said.
DoC Geraldine operations manager Duncan Toogood said when he arrived Project Jonah volunteers told him the whale had died.
Given the size of the whale, it was likely to be a juvenile and there were no obvious signs of injury.
"It wasn't possible to retrieve the whale on Tuesday night as it was still being moved around a lot in the surf."
Toogood said three "good sized sharks" were also spotted near the whale.
Scientific samples to be taken before the whale was buried in the afternoon,
It's the first time, he's aware, that a Southern Bottlenose has been found in the area, Toogood said.
A post on the Project Jonah Facebook page said the beach has several hazards, including stones which can easily cause wounds to a stranded whale and a deep drop-off close to shore as well as a strong undertow, "which was causing the whale to be rolled up the beach in the surf, highly stressful for a stranded whale," it said.
Whale or dolphin strandings should be reported to the DoC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).