A young royal penguin washed up on a New Zealand beach more than 2000km from home has died.

The critically ill bird dubbed 'Happy Feet Jnr' had been fighting for its life at Wellington Zoo for five days after being found starving and dehydrated with kidney failure at Tora beach, on the Wairarapa coast on Sunday.

Zoo staff did everything they could to give the penguin the best possible chance of survival but it died overnight, said the zoo's manager of veterinary science, Dr Lisa Argilla.

"As the penguin arrived nearly 3kg underweight, it had absolutely no reserves, and subsequently we suspect that this led to multiple organ failure, following the kidney failure diagnosed on its arrival," said Dr Argilla.


"Wildlife medicine is a very challenging field and though we did the best we could, sadly the penguin didn't survive."

Royal Penguins are normally found on Macquarie Island, more than 2000km south of where the penguin was found on Sunday.

This was only the fourth confirmed sighting of this species on the North Island of New Zealand.