New Zealand dollar

A New Zealand 100 dollar paper banknote, now replaced by the polymer issue.
A New Zealand 100 dollar paper banknote, now replaced by the polymer issue.

The New Zealand dollar (ISO 4217: NZD, sometimes NZ$ and often informally known as the Kiwi (dollar)) is the official currency of New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, and the Pitcairn Islands. It was introduced in 1967 to replace the New Zealand pound, when the country decimalised its currency.

The NZD is made up of 100 cents.



Currency is available as both notes and coins.


Value Obverse Reverse
100 Dollars Missing image

Features Lord Rutherford of Nelson, a New Zealand-born scientist who performed much early work in the investigation of the atom.
Features the mohua, a bird found in certain areas of the South Island.
50 Dollars Missing image

Features Sir Apirana Ngata, a prominent Maori politician who worked to protect and rejuvenate Maori culture.
Features a type of kokako, a rare New Zealand bird.
20 Dollars Missing image

Features Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch of New Zealand and other Commonwealth Realms.
Features the Karearea, sometimes called the New Zealand Falcon.
10 Dollars image:NewZealandTenDollarNote1.png
Features Kate Sheppard, the most important figure in the New Zealand women's suffrage movement.
Features the Whio (also known as the Blue Duck), a rare bird from the country's mountainous areas.
5 Dollars image:NewZealandFiveDollarNote1.png
Features Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer who with Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Features the hoiho, or Yellow-eyed Penguin, one of the world's rarest penguin species.

One and two dollar notes were phased out in 1991 with the introduction of the one and two dollar coins.


The obverse (front) design of all the coins feature the standard effigy used in the United Kingdom of HM The Queen with the legend ELIZABETH II NEW ZEALAND [date], or since 1999, NEW ZEALAND ELIZABETH II [date]. Only some state decorations and orders in New Zealand use the abbreviated Latin inscription ELIZABETH II D. G. REG. F. D.

The sizes of the "silver" coins follow the pre-decimalisation sizes of British coins. The 50c coin replaced the crown, the 20c the florin, the 10c the shilling and the 5c the sixpenny. This same conversion was used in Australian coinage.

Due to the fact that many countries around the world use a British-derived coinage system, many Australian, Fijian and Singaporean coins are in daily circulation in New Zealand (although not being official legal tender). In the case of Australian coins the obverse side is almost the same as New Zealand coins, and a large number of 5, 10, and 20 cent Australian coins are used in New Zealand in an identical manner to their true counterparts. It is of note that the United Kingdom itself has been phasing out these sizes of coins, and there has been the odd case of a British fivepence or tenpence appearing in a customer's change.

Shown below are the reverse designs.

Value Design Year of introduction Edge Weight
5 Cents Missing image

Features the tuatara, a rare reptile native to New Zealand.
1967 100% milling. 2g
10 Cents
Features a Maori koruru, or carved head.
1967 100% milling. 6g
20 Cents
Features well-known Maori carving from the Arawa iwi. Coins minted before 1991 feature the Kiwi (see below).
1967 100% milling. 10g
50 Cents
Features HM Bark Endeavour, the vessel of early explorer James Cook.
1967 Five plain segments separated by milling. 14g
1 Dollar Missing image

Features the Kiwi, New Zealand's national bird.
1991 Eight equal segments alternating between milling and plain edge. 8g
2 Dollars
Features the kotuku (white heron), a bird important to Maori mythology, in flight.
1991 Milling all around except for an infused channel containing ten raised dots. 10g

Coins and Notes

Lack of 1 and 2 cent coins

Prior to 30 April, 1990, one and two cent coins were also legal tender, but were withdrawn amid some controversy. However, modern non-cash transactions (such as electronic transactions and cheques) need not be multiples of five cents, and New Zealanders rapidly adapted to the change.

The lack of one and two cent coins means that cash transactions are rounded to the (normally) nearest five cents. Some larger retailers (notably, one supermarket chain), in the interests of public relations, elected to always round down (so that $4.99 becomes $4.95 instead of $5.00). Alternatively many retailers rounded their prices to five cents to avoid the issue entirely - so a New Zealand shopper often encounters products for sale at prices like $4.95; and virtually all retailers accept electronic transactions though the EFTPOS system.

Polymer banknotes

New Zealand notes, since 1999, have been printed on a plastic polymer banknotes instead of conventional paper. There was a slight controversy, but this move was mostly met with curiosity by the public. Such polymer notes have many advantages, notably a photocopy can effortlessly be distinguished from the real thing by touch, and many Kiwis have been thankful they go though a washing machine with no ill effects. Initial versions of the polymer 5 dollar note had issues with the ink wearing and aging prematurely, however, this was rectified in later production runs.

Damaged Notes

The Reserve Bank accepts all New Zealand currency for payment at face value. This applies to all demonetised or withdrawn currency, however such currency need not be accepted by money changers as this is no longer legal tender. All decimal notes are legal tender except $1 and $2 notes as these have been withdrawn. Damaged notes are still useable so long as they are recognisable. The Reserve Bank website notes that as a rule of thumb if there is more than half a bank note they will pay its full value. To receive payment people have to turn in the note to either the Reserve Bank in Wellington or any bank. Explaining Currency (

Upcoming Changes

On 11 November 2004 the Reserve Bank announced that it proposed to take the 5c coin out of circulation and to make the current 50, 20 and 10 cent coins smaller and lighter. The reasons given were:

  1. The 5c coin is now worth less than half what a cent was worth back in 1967, when New Zealand decimalised its currency.
  2. Surveys had found that the 50, 20 and 10 cent coins were too large and could not be easily carried in large quantities. The current 50 cent coin is one of the largest coins in circulation worldwide.
  3. The size of the ten-cent piece is too close to that of the dollar - so close, in fact, that it has been possible on occasion to put two 10-cent pieces in a parking meter together and receive a dollar's worth of parking time. (Naturally, this can also backfire and jam the meter.)

After a three-month public submission period that ended on February 4, 2005, the Reserve Bank announced on March 31 it would go ahead with the proposed changes. The changeover period, lasting no more than three months, starts in July 2006.

Timeline of value

  • Before July 10, 1967, New Zealand used the New Zealand pound, which was pegged to the UK's Pound sterling
  • On July 10, 1967, New Zealand decimalised its currencies by introducing the New Zealand dollar, at the rate of $1 per £1. The new currency remained pegged to Sterling.
  • On December 23, 1971, the linkage with Sterling was dropped, and it was pegged to the United States dollar.
  • July 9, 1973 - March 4, 1985: The dollar's value was determined from a trade-weighted basket of currencies.
  • March 4, 1985 - present day: The dollar's value was determined by the financial markets, and is in the range of about 0.40 - 0.74 United States dollars, with a particularly low valuation during 2001, and particularly high during early 2005, mainly due to the drop in value of the US dollar.

External links

  • International economics ( - History of the regulation surrounding the NZ$ exchange rate
  • National Bank of New Zealand ( - View the current exchange rate graphs of NZ$/US$
  • Reserve Bank of New Zealand ( - Government department in charge of monetary policy in New Zealand

Template:AsianCurrenciesde:Neuseeland-Dollar id:Dolar Selandia Baru it:Dollaro neozelandese pt:Dólar neozelandês


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