Zachary Gravatt wanted to be a doctor since he was a little boy and overcame a learning disability to get into medical school.

The popular 22-year-old was in his fourth year of study and two years from becoming a doctor when he was suddenly struck down by meningitis on Wednesday. He died in Auckland City Hospital, where he worked as a trainee doctor.

His death - less than a week after his birthday - has devastated his family and friends.

On the day he died, Zac was supposed to be sitting a practical test for general surgery but he woke up feeling ill.

His father, Lance Gravatt, said Zac rang him and told him he was "so sick he didn't think he could sit it".

"I said to take fluids and panadol and to see a doctor."

Zac followed his father's advice and saw a GP, who rushed him directly to hospital. He died that night.

When Zac was 13 he was in the bottom class at Auckland Grammar School, struggling with dyslexia.

Mr Gravatt told his son nothing could help him but hard work and if he wanted to achieve his dreams "he would have to work 10 times harder than the other kids".

Zac was looking forward to a work placement in Northland next year.

Yesterday, his father and mother Jenny said they were "so proud" of all the extra work he did overcoming the learning problems. They would always remember him as a "full-on, happy son" who was caring and committed to everything he did.

The couple said Zac was always busy, filling his non-work time with rowing, cycling and snow boarding. His love of parties and his wicked sense of humour led his friends to affectionately dub him "Party Boy".

Zac's funeral will be held on Tuesday at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Parnell.