The sudden death of a New Zealand man at a United States desert festival is being attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kiwi Shane Billingham was found unresponsive in his van at the Burning Man gathering in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno, Nevada yesterday.

Billingham, 33, who grew up on Great Barrier Island, was pronounced dead at an on-site medical clinc at Burning Man, according to the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner.

A spokesperson for the Burning Man organisation said Billingham was found at his Beats Boutique camp about 6.30pm, according to the Reno Gazette.

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Bystanders immediately began CPR and emergency responders arrived shortly after.

New Zealander Shane Billingham has died suddenly at a famous festival in the United States. Photo / Facebook
New Zealander Shane Billingham has died suddenly at a famous festival in the United States. Photo / Facebook

Billingham was transferred to Burning Man's emergency care centre where he was declared dead by an emergency physician shortly after.

Today, the Washoe County Medical Examiner's Office said a post-mortem examination found Billingham had a concentration of carbon monoxide in his blood that would be considered "poisonous to human life".

Steve MacWithey, of Beats Boutique camp, told the Reno Gazette Billingham was one of his best friends.

"He was one of the best people I've ever known."

He described Billingham as happy, beautiful and loving. He said friends who had stopped by to visit Billingham found him, the Reno Gazette reported.

MacWithey described his friend as a hard worker, a lover of sustainable farming and someone who could always be counted on.