You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Happy Feet is shipping out tonight.
The emperor penguin has been nursed back to health by Wellington Zoo since he was found on Peka Peka beach on the Kapiti Coast in June.
Zoo staff have removed sand, rocks and liquid from his stomach over four operations in the past two months, leaving the one-metre bird ready to return to the wild.
The three-year-old will spend four days on the boat before he is released east of Campbell Island, within the natural range of young emperor penguins.
Wellington Zoo veterinary science manager Dr Lisa Argilla, said Happy Feet was in good spirits and ready to begin the journey back to Antarctica.
"It's been an amazing journey caring for him over the past nine weeks and we have been overwhelmed by the amazing level of interest and support from around New Zealand and the world.''
He had a satellite tracking device and a microchip attached to his feathers yesterday and fans can monitor his progress through the Sirtrack and Our Far South websites.