New Zealand

Situated 2,000 kilometres southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand is an island country with magnificent scenery and culture. For nature lovers, there are the stunning beaches of Abel Tasman National Park and the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. History buffs will enjoy exploring Maori cultural sites like Rotorua, while foodies will appreciate the country’s world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc wines. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, New Zealand is the perfect place to vacation.

General New Zealand Currency Information

What is the currency of New Zealand?

The official currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZD).

What do New Zealand notes & coins look like?

NZ notes

Currently, there are two series of currency in circulation – Series 6 & 7. For Series 7, they kept the same tried-and-true design themes of New Zealand natives, Her Majesty the Queen, and New Zealand’s plants and animals. However, what makes Series 7 different from Series 6 is that the notes have a brighter appearance; this is achieved by making note denominations appear in larger print and having greater contrast in colours between notes.

New Zealand banknotes feature portraits of prominent and influential people from New Zealand’s history on the obverse side. These include:

  • $5 – Sir Edmund Hillary | New Zealand’s best-known mountaineer

  • $10 – Kate Sheppard | Leader of the women’s suffrage movement

  • $20 – Queen Elizabeth II | Longest-reigning monarch in British history

  • $50 – Sir Apirana Ngata | Prominent Māori leader

  • $100 – Ernest Rutherford | Renowned New Zealand physicist and chemist

NZ coin

While on the reverse side, each banknote features a native New Zealand bird, place and plant.

As for New Zealand dollar coins, each portrays Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. While on the reverse, different images include:

10¢ – A Māori koruru, or carved head

20¢ – Māori carving of Pukaki

50¢ – HM Bark Endeavour and Mount Taranaki

$1 – Kiwi and silver fern

$2 – Kotuku (great eastern egret)

Economy

Ranks 50th in the global GDP rankings, with a GDP of USD $257.211 billion as of 2022, New Zealand is a prosperous free-market democracy with a long history of stable political institutions and sound public finances. As one of the top ten currencies used for trade worldwide, the nation’s economy is export-driven and is heavily reliant on agriculture and tourism. The country’s main exports include dairy products, meat, fish, wool, and forestry products. Tourism is also a major contributor to the economy, with visitors enjoying the country’s natural beauty and its many outdoor activities, such as hiking, skiing, and rafting.

Brief currency history

New Zealand’s paper currency arrived with the Europeans. Prior to 1934, six different banks circulated their own banknotes throughout the country. However, there was no guarantee that these notes would be accepted by other banks. In 1924, the trading banks finally agreed on a standard design for their banknotes.

By the 1920s, there was a general movement to establish one central bank that would issue currency for the entire nation. In New Zealand, talk of creating a Reserve Bank continued throughout the decade.

After much discussion, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand was established in 1930 as the authority over the national currency. The design process for new banknotes began two years later and was finally put into circulation in August 1934.

On the 1st of August 1934, the first banknote was introduced and signed by Leslie Lefeaux- the first Governor of the Reserve Bank. Thomas De La Rue and Company Limited, London, then printed the said banknotes.

In 1963, the New Zealand government decided to change to decimal currency and then passed the Decimal Currency Act the following year. Before this change occurred on the 10th of July 1967, there were a few public discussions about the new money. Some suggestions included words like ‘kiwi’ and ‘zeal’ to avoid any confusion with the word ‘dollar’. However, it was eventually decided that changing the name wasn’t necessary; thus, the ‘dollar’ remained New Zealand’s currency unit.

Fast forward to 2015, the seventh series of banknotes were released. These notes had more advanced security features to prevent counterfeiting as well as being more durable against wear and tear. The images on the notes also became more contemporary to reflect New Zealand’s diverse culture better.

As of today, all circulating banknotes from Series 6 & Series 7 in New Zealand are legal tender (commonly called kiwi).

 

Taking Travel Money to New Zealand

NZ travel

What currency should I take to New Zealand?

If you’re travelling to New Zealand, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for New Zealand dollars (NZD) before you leave. See our guide on exchanging AUD to NZD here.

Is it cheaper to convert currency in Australia or New Zealand?

Generally speaking, organising your travel money before you leave Australia is the best way to get a good deal on your currency conversion. This is because you’ll be able to compare rates from different providers and find the best option for you. You might be able to get a slightly better New Zealand dollar exchange rate by exchanging your money in New Zealand, but this will depend on the current market conditions.

How much can I take to New Zealand?

Although you can bring an unlimited amount of currency into New Zealand, if you have more than NZD$10,000 (or equivalent to any foreign currency) in cash or your luggage, you must declare it to Customs upon arrival at Auckland Airport. Fortunately, most foreign currencies can be exchanged without issue at banks throughout New Zealand.

Where to convert currency?

You can convert your Australian dollar for travel money in any Crown Currency Exchange store across Australia. With nearly 20 years in the foreign exchange industry, they offer great exchange rates on over 80 different foreign currencies with no commissions or fees. You also don’t have to wait for days since you can get your purchased travel money on the same day.

Is tipping customary in New Zealand? How much is expected?

Although tips are not expected in New Zealand, they are appreciated, particularly in more touristed areas. However, you should never feel obligated to leave a tip if you did not enjoy your service.

In any case, a 10-15% tip is a nice gesture if you received good service. For example, if your bill came to NZD$100, an NZD$10-15 tip would be appreciated. Here are some general tipping guidelines for New Zealand:

Restaurants: If you felt the service was outstanding and went out of their way to make your experience special, then 10% would be appropriate. But if it was just standard fare, nothing above what you expected, Kiwis don’t usually leave a tip.

Tour guides & driver: Depending on how long the tour was and how many people were in your group, a good rule of thumb would be NZD$10-15 per person per day.

Hotel staff: If you had room service, it’s customary to leave a small tip (NZD$1-2) for the server. For housekeeping, it’s standard to leave up to NZD$5 per day.

Taxi drivers: Most people just round up the fare to the nearest dollar, but if you had exceptional service, you could leave up to 10%.

Salon & Spa: For service providers like hairdressers, masseuses, etc., a 10-15% tip is appropriate. You can also round up the total to the nearest dollar or leave the change.

Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines, and you should always use your best judgement when tipping in New Zealand.

Can you bargain in New Zealand?

Haggling or negotiating for a bargain is relatively rare in New Zealand. In general, prices are fixed and non-negotiable, especially in larger stores and malls. However, you might be able to haggle for a better price at markets or smaller independent stores.

When it comes to bargaining, it’s important to be respectful and understand that the vendor may have already factored in a certain amount of wiggle room into the price. With that said, it never hurts to ask for a discount, especially if you’re buying multiple items or in bulk.

What is ATM access like in New Zealand?

You can find ATMs all over New Zealand, just like in Australia. If you need cash, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just be aware that your Australian bank might charge a foreign transaction fee if you use your debit card overseas. And the ATM machine itself might also charge a foreign transaction fee.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

If you’re hoping to stick to a backpacker’s budget while in New Zealand, we recommend allocating around NZD$70-85 per day. That way, you’ll be able to cover the cost of a dorm room in a hostel, bus transportation, happy hour drinks, one or two pricier activities (like skydiving or bungy jumping), and self-cooked meals.

Moderate

If you’re looking to do a lot on your trip but still stay within budget, around NZD$150-225 per day should cover private rooms from Airbnb, plenty of activities, few domestic flights, and restaurant meals about 65-75% of the time. Plus, you’ll have some money left over for shopping and other incidentals.

Luxury

If you want to travel to New Zealand in style, and money is no object, you can expect to spend upwards of NZD$300 per day. This will give you plenty of leeway for five-star hotels, top restaurants, and any activity you could possibly want to do. Whether you take scenic trains and ride expensive ferries or indulge in fine dining in Queenstown, you’ll find that the sky’s the limit when it comes to spending.

Currency details

Currency:

New Zealand dollar

Currency code:

NZD

Currency symbol:

$

Central bank:

Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Nickname:kiwiCurrency sub-unit:

Cent = 1/100 of an dollar

Bank notes:

$5, $10, $20, $50, $100

Coins:

10¢, 20¢, 50¢. $1, $2

Must-do's while you are in New Zealand

NZ 1

1. Rafting the Kaituna River

Enjoy the excitement of the Kaituna River as you conquer 7-meter Tutea Falls, the tallest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. With your expert guide leading the way, a 50-minute rafting adventure down 14 rapids in a warm water rainforest canyon awaits your team.

NZ 2

2. Visit Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a natural wonderland and one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. The area is home to some of the tallest waterfalls on earth, which you can see up close on a boat tour. Visit Milford Sound on a rainy day to see hundreds of temporary waterfalls cascading down the steep mountain faces – it’s an unforgettable experience!

NZ 3

3. Hang out with the Kiwis at a Rugby Match

As the national sport of New Zealand, the locals take rugby very seriously. If you’re in town during rugby season (which usually starts in August), make sure to catch a match! Even if you don’t understand the rules, it’s still an exciting and fun experience.

NZ 4

4. Skydiving over Lake Wanaka

Savour the exhilaration of freefalling from altitudes of up to 15,000 feet at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour, all while taking in breathtaking panoramas of Wanaka’s famed lakes and mountains. From rocky peaks to pristine lakes, Wanaka is a picturesque place to skydive – an experience you’ll never forget!

NZ 5

5. Majestic boat tour at Glowworm caves

The Glowworm Grotto is a magical place where you can take a boat ride through a system of caves lit up by the glow of thousands of tiny glowworms. The experience is like something out of a fairytale, and it’s definitely worth adding to your New Zealand bucket list!

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