The black and white bird came ashore on a beach in the south of the North Island nearly 4,000 miles away from its usual habitat.
There are two dozens colonies of the penguins in Antarctica, but this is the first time for 44 years a 'vagrant' bird has turned up in New Zealand.
|-A long way from home: An Emperor Penguin waddles along Peka Peka beach in New Zealand after becoming lost while swimming in the Southern Ocean|
The creature's astonishing journey was witnessed by a woman walking her dog as the 2ft bird waddled out of the water in front of her.
Christine Wilton stumbled across the nautical wanderer on Peka Peka beach.
She said: 'It was out of this world to see it.
'It was this glistening white thing standing up on the sand and I thought I was seeing things.'
The tale of the lost penguin is similar to the 2006 children's film Happy Feet, in which a young penguin finds himself far from home during a voyage of discovery.
|Which way to Antarctica? The 2ft bird is believed to have become lost while hunting for squid and krill among ice floes and its epic journey may have taken up to a month|