Locals at a remote bay on the East Cape have rallied to save a pod of container ships that have come ashore and flung themselves onto the rocks.
At least seven ships have beached at Brownlee Bay and desperate attempts are being made to get them back out to sea.
The people of Brownlee Bay have formed chains and are pouring buckets of water over the container ships to keep them hydrated.
"We're hoping to refloat them at high tide," says local man Chuck Iti, "but it's touch and go. Some of these fellas have just about had it."
As he spoke, one of the container ships sank even further into the sand and gave a faint toot of its foghorn before falling silent again.
There appears to be no single reason for ship strandings but DoC spokesperson Woody Ballance says it may be a seasonal thing connected with tidal currents and changes in the Earth's magnetic field.
Another theory is that this particular pod has lost its way from its traditional breeding ground in the sheltered waters of Liberia.
Mr Ballance says it's important to save them because one day container ships may be extinct and then we'll all be very, very sorry.