About 56 of the beached whales on Spirits Bay in northern New Zealand succumbed to the weather despite desperate attempts by rescuers to save them.

A pod of 80 pilot whales were stranded on the beach on Wednesday, where heavy storms were hampering rescue efforts to move the animals to safer conditions.

More whales are still coming in as pilot whales have strong social bonds and try to help each other, resulting in more whales being struck, Mark Simpson of Project Jonah said.

This is the second beaching incident in two months in the area.

In August, about 58 whales died after being stranded at Karikari Beach and rescuers were attempting to refloat the remaining 15 whales.

Several such stranding incidents occur during summers in New Zealand when whales pass by on their migration to and from the Antarctic.

Over the past 160 years, more than 5,000 whales and dolphins have been recorded stranded around the New Zealand coast, though scientists have been unable to identify a reason behind the occurrence.

Department of Consevation's manager Jonathan Maxwell called for more volunteers to help move the whales.

The whales were lifted up with big nets onto trucks and moved to the Rarawa beach, where they will be sheltered and refloated back into the ocean, he said.

However, this attempt is time-consuming and the whales need to be kept damp and cool during the process.