In the Real WorldEditLike those of all penguins, the little penguin's wings have developed into flippers used for swimming. The Little Penguin typically grows to between 30 and 33 cm (12 to 13 inches) tall and usually weighs about 1.5 kilogram on average (3.3 pounds). The head and upperparts are blue in colour, with slate-grey ear coverts fading to white underneath, from the chin to the belly. The flippers are blue. The dark grey-black beak is 3–4 cm long, the irises pale silvery- or bluish-grey or hazel, and the feet pink above with black soles and webbing. An immature individual will have a shorter bill and lighter upperparts.
Like most seabirds, they have a long lifespan. The average for the species is 6.5 years, but flipper ringing experiments show in very exceptional cases up to 25 years in captivity.
In addition to the name little penguin, several common names are in use. In Australia, they are also referred to as fairy penguins because of their tiny size. In New Zealand, they are also called little blue penguins, or just blue penguins, owing to their slate-blue plumage, and they are called kororā in Māori.