Nearly two thirds of the remaining heavy fuel oil left in the number five starboard tank on the container ship Rena has now been pumped off.
The vessel ran aground on the Astrolobe reef off the Bay of Plenty coast on October 5, spilling about 350 tonnes of oil and scores of containers into the sea.
Salvors have been pumping oil continuously from the submerged starboard number 5 fuel tank since Wednesday night, and crews onboard have been siphoning the remaining heavy fuel oil today.
A total of 225 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has been pumped from the starboard tank into tanker Awanuia so far from a total of 358 tonnes originally in the tank.
Maritime New Zealand says good progress is also being made with the pumping and less than 200 tonnes of oil still sits in the tank.
The salvors maintained a flow rate of around 4 tonnes an hour, but this is expected to decrease as the amount of oil left in the tank decreases.
Weather conditions remain good for salvage operations.
It said the salvage team is now close to the end point of oil removal from the Rena, with salvors shifting their focus to preparing for the removal of containers from the vessel.
It will take a couple of days to get the container removal barge Sea Tow 60 moored in the right place so salvors could start safely removing the containers.
There are 466 of those remaining on the deck, and 814 secured in holds below.
Weather permitting, the operation to remove the containers could begin next week.
Oil spill response teams out in the field are encouraged by the good progress made by Svitzer's salvage team.
National On Scene Commander Rob Service said everyone involved were "very heartened" by the news that nearly all the heavy fuel oil was off the ship.
"It's great news for us that we are getting closer to the point where the risk of another significant spill from Rena is gone," he said.
Meanwhile, clean up operations in the areas of oiled Bay of Plenty beaches are continuing throughout the weekend.
"Our teams have been out on the coastline all around the Bay of Plenty and have been hands on with the oil that has washed up on these shores," Service said.
Shoreline clean-up teams of 300 people have been working from Matakana to Rabbit Islands as well as at Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Maketu.
On Sunday there will be clean-ups at Papamoa and Maketu, but the Matakana Island event has been cancelled.
Teams are focusing on areas where there is a high level of oil in the sand and rockey shorelines to prevent it remobilising and affecting other areas.
Beach access restrictions remain in place from Tay Street to Maketu.
Service said while he had hoped some access restrictions would be lifted this weekend, it was now likely that would happen next week.
"We know people want to get onto some of those beaches, but we can't rush in - we must ensure we have worked carefully through that process," he said.
About 70 people are working in the wildlife centre today, with more than 400 live birds still in our care.
Recreational and commercial vessel owners are still being warned to keep clear of the booms and other equipment being used in the Rena response, including the oil boom across Southeast Bay at Mayor Island.
A gap in the boom is marked with flashing lights at night and orange buoys during the day, and vessels should navigate with caution.
More than 900 tonnes of oily waste has so far been collected.