The mantle itself is over 6.6 feet long with an eye that is 3.15 inches wide, a spokesperson from the aquarium wrote online on Tuesday, describing the animal as a "MASSIVE specimen" with its longest tentacle measuring 16.4 feet in length.
"Before the birds got to it, we got help to move it to the aquarium where it is safe inside a freezer with glass windows so you can see it -- on display until we can do more with it,” Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium said.
Marine biologist and aquarium owner Megan Lewis told the local newspaper the Marlborough Express that the squid was identified as a mature female. "They tend to grow very fast and live not very long," Lewis said, noting that the specimen's head was in “pristine condition.”
"There's no indication of how it died,” Lewis told the Marlborough Express. “The stomach was full so it wasn't hungry."
In 2013, a similarly large squid was found dead in New Zealand after it was attacked by a larger one.
Samples of the squid have been given to Auckland and Otago universities for further research, the aquarium wrote in its statement.