A little blue penguin, obviously unwell, was found wandering Hokio Beach recently, a rare sighting according to Department of Conservation which said it was unusual to see them in the area, especially during the daytime.

DoC Wellington senior biodiversity ranger Brent Tandy said while there are certain hotspots where these penguins can be found, there are only sporadic reports of penguins on the Horo-Kapiti Coast.

He said for this solitary bird it is not uncommon at this time of year to come ashore to moult.

"They feed up after the breeding season and spend two to three weeks on land to change out all their feathers. During this time they can't swim and therefore don't feed," he said.

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"But for a bird to be out in the day is unusual and a sign of sickness or moult-stasis, the moult not happening as it should."

Tandy said not all birds that appear sick are in need of assistance.

"Sickness and death in all species is a natural process and it can be difficult to know the best course of action in each situation," he said.

"Capture and treatment is very traumatic and stressful so a decision to intervene should be well considered."

He said obvious injuries such as dog attacks or open wounds are best treated at the Wellington Zoo or Massey University's Wildbase in Palmerston North.

Tandy said due to predators, including dogs and cats, pollution, naturally occurring bio-toxins in water and habitat loss, the penguin threat status is declining.

Driving cars along the beach is also generally bad for many species of sea birds, such as penguins and banded dotterel, he said.

If you spot a wild animal or bird on the beach, keep your distance and make sure any dogs are on leads.

If an animal or bird is obviously hurt do not approach it and instead call the DoC wildlife emergency hotline 0800 362 468.