Mohua Blue Penguin Trust

Little blue penguins

Kororā - The little penguin


The little blue penguin is the world's smallest penguin. At about 40 centimetres high (the height of a rugby ball) it generally weighs just over 1 kilogram. The scientific name of the little penguin is Eudyptula minor, and the Maori name is kororā, meaning "good little diver".


Once common in Golden Bay the conservation status of the kororā around New Zealand is at risk and declining. Coastal development has removed their nesting sites and introduced new threats. Little penguins are killed by dogs, hit by vehicles crossing roads, drowned in set nets and struck by boats at sea.


Adult birds come ashore between May and June to prepare their nests. They nest in underground burrows, under vegetation, in logs and in crevices between rocks (rock retaining walls are a favourite). Since people have occupied their coastal environment, you will find them under houses, boat sheds and wood piles. 


By day little penguins are out at sea fishing and feeding. They come ashore under the cover of darkness. They can be very noisy when pairing up and sorting out nests. When they are ready to breed, young birds often settle just metres away from where they were raised. Once settled in an area they seldom move away.


The breeding season in Mohua Golden Bay lasts from June to February.  After breeding, adults spend time fattening up, ready for the moult.  Between December and March, the adult penguins will stay ashore to moult, when they will replace all existing feathers with brand new feathers. 


The moulting process takes around two weeks. As the penguins are not waterproof while moulting, they are unable to leave land to go back to the ocean to feed.  After the moult, little penguins divide their time between feeding in the ocean and renovating their burrows on land.


If you would like to learn more about the life of kororā, you can find more detailed information on the "New Zealand Birds Online" and DOC web sites here:


NZ Birds Online:


Department of Conservation:

Adult penguin returns to two chicks

© 2020 John Cockrem/Massey University. Video taken at Oamaru Little Blue Penguin colony.

Kororā walking (Little penguin)

© 2020 John Cockrem/Massey University. Video taken at Oamaru Little Blue Penguin colony.

A chick's flipper practice

© 2021 Angela Lees & Britta Steude, Mohua Penguin Trust. Video taken at Port Tarakohe, Golden Bay. Kororā chick prepares for diving in the ocean, a dry run on land in front of its nesting box. Nightime, infrared camera capture a few days before fledging


page last edited 21 February 2023