The 40-year-old, who scored 37 tries in 63 Tests for the All Blacks, had been diagnosed with a rare kidney condition -- Nephrotic Syndrome -- in 1995, which cut short his stellar career. He had a kidney transplant in 2004.
All Blacks past and present were quick to pay tribute to Lomu, the game's first global superstar.
Lomu's influence also inspired a generation of rugby players outside of New Zealand.
Despite not winning the World Cup, Lomu is the tournament's joint top try scorer along with South Africa wing Bryan Habana, scoring 15 tries in 11 matches.
Lomu's record eight tries at the 1999 event in England, where the All Blacks lost in the semifinals, was matched by Habana in 2007 and New Zealand's Julian Savea in 2015.
In a career full of highlights, Lomu's four-try demolition of England in the 1995 World Cup semifinal stands out. Given his power and physique, once the Kiwi got going he was almost impossible to stop.
Shortly before his retirement, Lomu, who was the son of Tongan immigrants, made 10 appearances for Cardiff Blues in Wales.
Lomu was widely viewed as a player who transcended rugby. On Wednesday, other sports stars, notably former England soccer captain David Beckham, took to social media to pay their respects.
It wasn't only in rugby that Lomu shined, having excelled in athletics as a schoolboy.