An infant orca remains at Plimmerton beach as rescue teams try to locate its family along the coast.
The search for any orca pod along the west coast of Wellington today has ended without a sighting, with Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and volunteers resuming at first light tomorrow.
Yesterday afternoon the male orca, which is about 6 months old, was separated from his pod and stranded along the northern beach.
Rescue teams have been at the scene and have been monitoring his health overnight and throughout today.
Due to health and safety concerns, the calf was lifted from the water last night and kept in a makeshift enclosure in the back of a trailer.
The orca sustained minor injuries from the beaching and being relocated, and was particularly stressed throughout the night.
The rescue team, made up of volunteers from the organisation Whale Rescue and members of the DOC marine team, spent the night outside while temperatures dipped to -1C.
Orca Research Trust founder Ingrid Visser, who travelled to the scene last night, said it was not ideal the calf had to be out of water.
The calf was relocated back into the water first thing this morning, with several wet-suited volunteers guiding the calf along the shallows throughout the day.
"You can imagine, being ripped away from your mum. He's very worried, he's never been out of the water before and he doesn't necessarily understand that we're trying to help him," Dr Visser said.
Crowds gathered consistently throughout the morning and afternoon.
The local community has banded together overnight to support the whale and those volunteering.
Shaun Johnson from Merlin Labs put up his aeroplane for local pilots to search for orca pods along the coast today.
The search extended down the southern coast and as far north as Whanganui, which has so far been unsuccessful.
"The aircraft is not actually for this purpose, but when I heard about it - I had the aircraft sitting in the hanger, and we're more than happy to help with things like this in the local community."
Locals around the area had been asked to watch the water and report any whale sightings to the Department of Conservation.
While the sea is scanned for the orca's family, the calf's health has been deteriorating without its mother's milk.
The search is for any pod of orcas, because female orcas have been known to be surrogates for young calfs.
DOC is urging the public to stay clear of the area to focus on the calf, wanting to keep its stress levels as low as possible.
It said in these instances there was a possibility that the orca may need to be euthanised.