Exchange Currency

New Zealand dollar

The New Zealand dollar is the currency of New Zealand. It is divided into 100 cents.

It is normally written with the dollar sign $, or NZ$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. In the context of currency trading, it is often informally called the "Kiwi", since kiwi are commonly associated with New Zealand and the $1 coin depicts a kiwi. It is one of the 10 most-traded currencies in the world being approximately 1.6% of global foreign exchange market daily turnover in 2010.

Summary info

Summary information about New Zealand dollar
ISO 4217 Code:
Currency sign:
New Zealand
10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar, 2 dollars
5 dollars, 10 dollars, 20 dollars, 50 dollars, 100 dollars
Central bank:
Reserve Bank of New Zealand


The Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman, discovered New Zealand in 1642. Captain Cook claimed the islands for Britain during his visits of 1769 and 1777, but colonization did not begin until the nineteenth century. New Zealand became a separate British colony on May 3, 1841 under the Waitangi Treaty between the native Maori and British settlers. It became the Dominion of New Zealand on September 26, 1907.

Foreign coins circulated in New Zealand during the nineteenth century, and in 1850 the British Pound Sterling was declared its official legal tender. However, because of a shortage of coins, hundreds of private tokens were issued during the last half of the nineteenth century. British and Australian coins circulated until 1933 when New Zealand issued its first coins.

New Zealand introduced the New Zealand Pound (NZP) at par with the British Pound Sterling. A currency board, established on November 25, 1847, issued banknotes between 1850 and 1856 when banks began issuing banknotes. Six private banks (Bank of New Zealand, National Bank of New Zealand, Commercial Bank of Australia, Union Bank of Australia, Bank of New South Wales) issued banknotes until 1934. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, created by Act of November 27, 1933 became the sole issuing authority in 1934. The pound was divisible into 20 Shillings or 240 Pence, and the Dollar is divisible into 100 Cents.

Niue, or Savage Island, was discovered in 1774 by Captain Cook. Niue became a British protectorate in 1900 and was annexed to New Zealand as part of the Cook Islands on June 11, 1901. They were separated from the Cook Islands in 1904 and became an associated state of New Zealand on October 19, 1974.

Tokelau (known as the Union Group of Islands) became a British protectorate in 1889 and became part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands on February 29, 1916. The Union Group was renamed the Tokelau Islands in 1946, became attached to New Zealand in 1948.

Niue and Tokelau use the New Zealand Dollar, and they have issued coins for numismatic but not for circulation purposes. The New Zealand Dollar is also used on Pitcairn Island, the Cook Islands, and Ross dependency. Pitcairn Island has issued some coins for numismatic purposes, but none for general circulation.

The Decimal Currency Act was passed in 1964, setting the date of transition to 10 July 1967. Words such as "kiwi" and "zeal" were proposed to avoid confusion with the word "dollar", which many people at the time associated with the United States dollar. In the end, the word "dollar" was chosen anyway, and an anthropomorphic dollar note cartoon character called "Mr. Dollar" became the symbol of transition in a huge publicity campaign.

On Monday 10 July 1967 ("Decimal Currency Day"), the New Zealand dollar was introduced to replace the pound at a rate of two dollars to one pound (ten shillings to one dollar, ten cents to one shilling). Some 27 million new banknotes were printed and 165 million new coins were minted for the changeover.

In 1971 the US devalued its dollar relative to gold, leading New Zealand on 23 December to peg its dollar at US$1.216 with a 4.5% fluctuation range, keeping the same gold value. From 9 July 1973 to 4 March 1985 the dollar's value was determined from a trade-weighted basket of currencies.

The NZ$ was floated on 4 March 1985 at the initial rate of US$0.4444. Since then the dollar's value has been determined by the financial markets, and has been in the range of about US$0.39 to 0.88.

The dollar's post-float minimum average daily value was US$0.3922 on 22 November 2000, and it set a post-float maximum on 22 July 2011 of US$0.8666. Much of this medium-term variation in the exchange rate has been attributed to differences in interest rates.

The New Zealand dollar's value is often strongly affected by currency trading and is among the 10 most-traded currencies.

On 11 June 2007 the Reserve Bank sold an unknown amount of New Zealand dollars in an attempt to drive down its value. This is the first intervention in the markets by the Bank since the float in 1985.

Two suspected interventions followed, but they were not as successful as the first: the first appeared to be initially effective, with the dollar dropping to approximately US$0.7490 from near US$0.7620. However, within little more than a month it had risen to new post-float highs, reaching US$0.8103 on 23 July 2007.

After reaching its post-float record high in early 2008, the value of the NZ$ plummeted throughout much of the 2nd half of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 as a response to the global economic downturn and flight by investors away from "riskier" currencies such as the NZ$. The NZ$ bottomed out at approximately US $0.50 on 6 March 2009. However, it rebounded strongly as the year progressed, reaching the US$0.75 range by November 2009.


In early 1840, Captain William Hobson, RN, the first Governor of New Zealand, extended British laws to New Zealand. This meant that certain sections of the Imperial Coinage Act, 1816 (UK) became relevant to the new colony. This allowed for the standard gold, silver and bronze British coins to circulate freely in New Zealand alongside the existing variety of foreign coins. British coins were made legal tender in terms of the above act by the passing of the English Laws Act in 1858.

In the 1840s and 1850s there was an extreme shortage of coins, especially copper coins. Traders tried the issue of low value paper notes to remedy this situation but this was soon abandoned. Instead, as this shortage intensified throughout the 1850s, businesses in Auckland and Dunedin decided to issue their first copper tokens in 1857. In all, 48 traders (mostly retailers) issued their own penny and halfpenny tokens. This practice survived until 1881 with their use gradually declining in the 1880s.

In 1897, New Zealand’s currency became subject to certain provisions stated in the Imperial Coinage Act, 1870 (UK). This meant that only British coin became the official legal tender coin of the colony. At that time, it was already one of the two ‘common’ currencies, along with Australian minted gold sovereign and half sovereign coins.

In 1914, the gradual withdrawal of gold coin from circulation took place.

Silver coin was debased from .925 fine (Sterling Silver) to .500 fine in 1920.

By 1933, it was obvious that something had to be done about the coin smuggling and the shortage of lower denomination coins in New Zealand. It was decided that New Zealand should start issuing currency from a single bank. The New Zealand Numismatic Society suggested that New Zealand adopt a decimal system of coinage.

However a distinctive New Zealand coinage was introduced in 1933 based on a fractional system (the same as sterling). These new coins used the same weights, sizes and denominations as the British coins. Bronze coins (penny and halfpenny) of British standard were not approved until 22nd December 1939. These were issued in 1940, at the time of the Centennial of New Zealand.

The Coinage Act, 1933 governed the currency, coinage and legal tender in New Zealand, and meant that British coin ceased to be legal tender as at 1st February 1935. New Zealand then became the last and most remote of the self-governing dominions of the British Commonwealth to introduce its own coinage.

In 1959, a committee was set up to study and report on decimal coinage. This committee was in favour of such an adoption, and after further study, it was announced in 1963 that New Zealand would change to a decimal coinage system.

In 1964, the Decimal Currency Act, 1964 prescribed the designs, diameters, and standard weights of the decimal coins, which first appeared in circulation on 10th July 1967. These coins were all designed by Reginald George James Berry (known as James) of Wellington. His initials (JB) appear on the reverse of all of our then bronze and cupro-nickel coins.

The word Shilling was included on the 10 cent coin to assist with the transition to decimal currency, it featured on minting of the 10c coin for the years 1967, 1968 and 1969 and was dropped in 1970. The 1968 10 cent coin minting were for collectors sets only.

On the 31st March 1989, the issue of 1 and 2 cent pieces ceased. Both coins were demonetised on the 30th April 1990.

In December 1990, a new 20 cent piece was introduced to replace the old 20 cent piece, as the Kiwi design on the old 20 cent piece was transferred to the new $1 coin. Both designs of the 20 cent coin are legal tender along with the earlier two shilling piece or florin.

On the 31st July 2006, the Reserve Bank introduced new smaller and lighter 10, 20 and 50 cent coins made of plated steel. The Bank started withdrawing the corresponding old silver-coloured copper nickel coins at the same time. The 5 cent coin was withdrawn and not replaced. The old coin were demonetised, ie declared no longer legal tender, with effect from 1 November 2006.


Records exist of banking facilities in Babylon four thousand years ago, and there is evidence that the Chinese, Greeks and Romans had banking facilities long before the Christian era.

The first true paper money appeared in China about 700 AD, but several centuries passed before paper was used in Europe.

The Bank of England began issuing notes in 1694. There were just a few lines of engraved text, promising to pay a specified sum at the Bank's premises. Also on the note were spaces for a handwritten date, number, signature and the name of the payee. The note showed the figure of Britannia, but there were few other decorative features.

In New Zealand, paper money arrived with the Europeans. Prior to 1934, the six trading banks had produced the bank notes that were in common circulation. However these banks were not obliged to accept each other’s notes. In 1924 the trading banks reached an agreement on a uniform design.

By the 1920s there was a general push to establish a central bank that would issue a single national currency. Talk of establishing a Reserve Bank in New Zealand went on through the 1920s. The decision was finally taken in 1930, and steps went ahead to set it up with sole authority to issue New Zealand’s currency.

Work to design new banknotes began in 1932. They were finally issued in August 1934, six months after the Reserve Bank started.

These first notes were intended to be temporary. They had been designed in a hurry amid heated debate over what they should look like. In the end they included features of notes already in circulation. The design included a Kiwi, the Arms of New Zealand, a sketch of Mitre Peak and a portrait of King Tawhiao, the second Maori king.

The colours of the original bank notes were similar to the previous trading bank notes. All the notes carried the same design, but different colours distinguished the denominations. Notes of 10/- (ten shillings), £1 (one pound), £5 and £50 were coloured orange, mauve, blue-green and red respectively. The banknotes were all the same size (7" x 3½").

The first bank note was introduced on 1st August 1934, and was signed by the first Governor of the Reserve Bank, Leslie Lefeaux. They were printed by Thomas De La Rue And Company Limited, London.

The second series was issued on 6th February 1940. The design and colours for the 10/- and £50 notes were changed. A portrait of Captain James Cook replaced that of King Tawhiao. A green coloured £10 note was also introduced at this time. These notes stayed in circulation until the change to decimal currency in 1967.

The third series was issued on 10th July 1967. These notes all featured HM Queen Elizabeth II on the front.

The fourth series was issued in 1981, largely as a result of a change in printer.

Previously the Reserve Bank of New Zealand notes had been printed by Thomas De La Rue and Company of London. In 1979 the Reserve Bank put the next year's note order out to international tender. The contract went to Bradbury Wilkinson and Company (NZ) Ltd who had recently built a note printing plant in Whangarei.

The change of printer presented the opportunity for a redesign of the notes because of the necessity for new plates to be engraved. The most obvious change was an updated portrait of the Queen.

Moving into the 1980s, it became apparent that there was a need for a note between the $20 and the $100. A $50 note was introduced at the end of 1983.

In 1990, the Reserve Bank decided to completely revamp the appearance and features of New Zealand's banknotes. This was the first complete redesign since the introduction of Decimal Currency 23 years earlier. The result, after the Bank had consulted widely with the public, was a new series of notes with distinctly New Zealand designs.

NZD banknotes pictures gallery

5 New Zealand dollar
Banknote of 5 New Zealand dollar has dimensions 135×66 mm and main colors are dark pastel red, deep chestnut, antique brass, grullo, beaver, taupe gray, otter brown, peach-orange and banana mania. The banknote of 5 New Zealand dollars was issued in 1992.
5 New Zealand dollar (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 5 New Zealand dollar is showing the portrait of Sir Edmund Hillary (1919 - 2008) was New Zealand’s best known explorer. In 1953 he became the first man to climb Mount Everest, and in 1958 he was the first man to drive overland to the South Pole. Mount Cook/Aoraki is the highest mountain in New Zealand.
5 New Zealand dollar (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 5 New Zealand dollar is showing an image with the Campbell Island. Yellow eyed penguin or hoiho (Megadyptes antipodes), is one of the world’s rarest penguins. It has a distinctive yellow iris and yellow band of feathers across the back of the head. Also, on this banknote is showing the subantarctic lily, the pleurophyllum speciosum and the bull kelp.

10 New Zealand dollar
Banknote of 10 New Zealand dollar has dimensions 140×68 mm and main colors are glaucous, slate gray, camouflage green, pale silver, pale aqua and lavender mist. The banknote of 10 New Zealand dollars was issued in 1992.
10 New Zealand dollar (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 10 New Zealand dollar is showing the portrait of Kate Sheppard (1848 – 1934), was a prominent leader of the campaign to give women the vote in New Zealand. A long campaign ended in 1893 when New Zealand became the first country in the world to give all people the vote. White camellia flowers were given to Members of Parliament who had supported the bill to give women the vote. The flower has become the symbol of New Zealand women’s fight for the vote.
10 New Zealand dollar (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 10 New Zealand dollar is showing an image with the River consists of Blue ducks, the parahebe catarractae and the blechnum. Blue duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos,) are an endangered species. It is found mainly in mountainous areas, living in the fast-flowing rivers of New Zealand. Parahebe catarractae is a close relative of the Hebe, the largest plant group unique to New Zealand. It can grow up to 60cm high and is notable for its trailing stems and attractive purple flowers. Blechnum fern or mountain kiokio, is a very common fern throughout New Zealand. It grows best in damp and shady places. In young plants, like the specimen on the note, the fronds are tinged pink.

20 New Zealand dollar
Banknote of 20 New Zealand dollar has dimensions 145×70 mm and main colors are granny smith apple, dark sea green, camouflage green, dark khaki, timberwolf, manatee and platinum. The banknote of 20 New Zealand dollars was issued in 1992.
20 New Zealand dollar (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 20 New Zealand dollar is showing the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1926 – ). This portrait of the Queen was taken at Government House, Wellington on 26 February 1986 by Ronald Woolf. Her Majesty is wearing the Sovereign’s Badge of the Order of New Zealand. The note shows two of the three buildings of the New Zealand Parliament, situated in Wellington. The older building, clad in Takaka marble, was finished in 1922 and houses the Legislative Chamber. Construction of the "Beehive" Executive Wing, designed by Sir Basil Spence, began in 1969 and was completed in 1981.
20 New Zealand dollar (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 20 New Zealand dollar is showing an image with the New Zealand Alpine. New Zealand falcon or karearea (Falco novaeseelandiae), is a striking and majestic bird. A fearless hunter, it is mainly found in bush-clad mountain valleys. Marlborough rock daisy (Pachystegia insignis) is a small spreading shrub, with thick leathery leaves and large, spectacular flower heads. It grows in inaccessible places, and can flourish in areas from sea level to 1,200 metres. Flowering red tussock is one of the 23 species of tussock grass in New Zealand. They are primarily found in the alpine zone above the tree line. Red tussock has a distinct red tinge to its leaves. Mount Tapuaenuku, the highest peak in the South Island’s Inland Kaikoura range at 2,885 metres high. The view on the note is from the east side of the Inland Kaikouras, looking up from the Awatere Valley floor.

50 New Zealand dollar
Banknote of 50 New Zealand dollar has dimensions 150×72 mm and main colors are pale gold, languid lavender, pink pearl, ceil, light slate gray, gainsboro and pale pink. The banknote of 50 New Zealand dollars was issued in 1992.
50 New Zealand dollar (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 50 New Zealand dollar is showing the portrait of Sir Apirana Ngata (1874 – 1950) played a significant role in the revival of Maori people and culture during the early years of the twentieth century. He was the first Maori to graduate from a New Zealand university, and an elected Member of Parliament for 38 years. Porourangi Meeting House was designed by Sir Apirana himself. It stands at Waiomatatini Marae, near Ruatoria, and is a showcase for Maori art. The Tukutuku pattern was designed by Sir Apirana Ngata and is known as "poutama porourangi". "Poutama" is the style of tukutuku pattern meaning "stairway to heaven" and "Porourangi" is the name of the Ngati Porou meeting house which features the pattern.
50 New Zealand dollar (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 50 New Zealand dollar is showing an image with the Conifer broadleaf forest. Blue wattled crow or kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) is a large native bird with a distinctive steel grey body with a black face "mask" and sky blue wattles. The variety on the note is the North Island kokako. Pureora Forest is part of 78,000 hectare Pureora Forest Park, in the central North Island. It is one of the most ecologically significant forests in New Zealand and is home to a large population of kokako. The plant forms impenetrable thickets used by the birds for nesting. Supplejack produces bright red berries once it emerges from the shade of the forest canopy. Sky-blue mushroom grows throughout New Zealand. It is notable for its bright blue colour which fades with age.

100 New Zealand dollar
Banknote of 100 New Zealand dollar has dimensions 155×74 mm and main colors are beaver, dark chestnut, rosy brown, pale gold, pastel brown, dark tan, almond and tea rose. The banknote of 100 New Zealand dollars was issued in 1992.
100 New Zealand dollar (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 100 New Zealand dollar is showing the portrait of Ernest, Lord Rutherford of Nelson (1871 – 1937) is internationally recognised as the "father of the atom". He changed the basic understanding of atomic science on three occasions. He explained the perplexing problem of naturally occurring radioactivity, determined the structure of the atom and changed one element into another. Nobel Prize Medal which Lord Rutherford received in 1908. Overlaying the medallion is a graph plotting the results from Lord Rutherford’s investigations into naturally occurring radioactivity.
100 New Zealand dollar (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 100 New Zealand dollar is showing an image with the Beech Forest. Yellowhead or mohua (Mohoua ochrocephala) is sometimes known as the Bush Canary. This small and colourful bird lives in tracts of native bush throughout the South Island. Red Beech or tawharanui grow up to 30 metres high and are named for the colouring of their young leaves. They are the favoured habitat of the yellow heads in Eglinton Valley. Eglinton Valley is located within the Fiordland National Park on Te Anau-Milford Sound highway. It is home to a particularly fine stand of red is found in Fiordland beech forests. The moths blend perfectly with the lichens that cling to the trunks of the trees.

Useful links

About Reserve Bank of New Zealand:
Reserve Bank of New Zealand
List of currencies:
Security and design features of NZD banknotes:
NZD banknotes
NZD currency on Wikipedia:
New Zealand dollar
Official Website of Reserve Bank of New Zealand:
Commemorative coins:
Commemorative Coins