Coins in circulation
The 3 'sides' of each coin
Each coin has 2 sides and an edge. The edge is sometimes called the third side.
The front of a coin or 'heads' is called the obverse. It is the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The back of a coin or 'tails' is called the reverse. It is different on each coin denomination.
The edge of the coin is the thin strip between the two sides of the coin. The texture, feel or pattern on the edge of a coin is called the edge treatment.
The obverse, reverse and edge of our coins
Designs on New Zealand's coins have not changed significantly since decimal currency was introduced in 1967. These initial coins were intended to match some of the previous imperial currency, for example the 20 cent piece was the same size as a florin.
It was in the late 1980s that the two lowest denomination notes, the $1 and the $2, were 'coined'. These coins were released in 1990, made of aluminium bronze, and featured a kiwi on the $1 coin and a kōtuku on the $2 coin.
A 20 cent piece featuring a Māori 'pukaki' carving was released in 1990, because the kiwi motif was moved to the $1 coin.
The 'heads' design featuring the Queen's portrait was updated in 1986 and again in 1999.
What are coins made of?
In 2006, new and smaller plated steel coins were introduced to replace the older cupronickel 50, 20 and 10 cent pieces.
Plated steel coins differ from older cupronickel coins which were demonetised in November 2006. During the manufacturing process the steel core is covered with layers of nickel and copper, giving the coin its characteristic colour and surface.
One and two dollar coins are made of an aluminium-bronze alloy.
Where coins are minted
New Zealand’s $1 and $2 coins are minted by the Royal Mint in the United Kingdom. The 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent coins are minted by the Royal Canadian Mint. Other mints the Bank has used over time include: the Royal Australian Mint, Norwegian Mint and the South African Mint Company. The F4 Coin mintings data has details about the number and value of coin mintages.