The penguin, who has been affectionately named 'Pingu' by locals, was a long way from its natural habitat of Antarctica - marking only the third recorded incident of the species being found in New Zealand after swimming its way there.
Footage recorded by Harry Singh shows the animal waddling around on the beach at Birdlings Flat, a settlement south of the city of Christchurch, on 10 November.
Singh had been out walking with his wife when they spotted the penguin, who looked lost and tired.
Singh told Newsflare: "This beautiful Adelie penguin came all the way from Antarctica."
He added: "He has been rescued by the penguin rescue team."
After Singh called the rescuers, concerned that it was not getting into the water and may be attacked by other animals, the well-travelled bird was found to be underweight and dehydrated.
It has since been given fluids and fed via a feeding tube, with rescuers saying it will be released onto a safe beach on Banks Peninsula, which is free of dogs.
According to National Geographic, Adélie penguins have an IUCN Red List status of 'near threatened' and live on the Antarctic continent and on many 'small, surrounding coastal islands'.
They spend winters offshore in the seas surrounding the Antarctic pack ice, feeding on tiny aquatic creatures like krill, along with fish and shrimp.
Singh also told the BBC that when he and his wife first saw the penguin, they didn't think it was real.
"First I thought it [was] a soft toy," he said.
"Suddenly the penguin moved his head, so I realized it was real."
Singh added: "It did not move for one hour... and [looked] exhausted."
Sightings of Adélie penguins remain rare in New Zealand, but experts say that if more of them appear, it could be a worrying sign.
Speaking to The Guardian, Otago University zoology professor Philip Seddon said Pingu's appearance was 'super rare'.
"I think if we started getting annual arrivals of Adélie penguins, we'd go actually, something's changed in the ocean that we need to understand," Seddon said.
"More studies will give us more understanding where penguins go, what they do, what the population trends are like - they're going to tell us something about the health of that marine ecosystem in general."