Banknote features for people who are blind or have low vision

New Zealand’s banknotes have features for people who are blind or have low-vision.

In the context of this information, the word 'blind' encompasses all those with a vision impairment who can identify with some or all of the issues described below.

  • Large, bold numerals. The designs feature large numerals to show the denomination. These appear as both light-on-dark and dark-on-light.
  • Image showing the larger numerals on the new $10 note
  • Greater colour contrast between notes. Each banknote has a dominant colour. $5 is orange, $10 is blue, $20 is green, $50 is purple, and $100 is red.
  • Image of new notes on a colour wheel showing the contrast between the note colours
  • Different note sizes. The bigger the banknote, the higher the value.
  • Image showing size difference between the new notes
  • Clearer backgrounds. The banknote backgrounds are less cluttered, allowing the denominations to be seen clearly.
  • Image showing how the denominations are easier to see on teh new notes

The individuals and native birds depicted on the current notes are unchanged, as are the sizes of the banknotes.

The new banknotes have been developed to improve the security of our money (to minimise counterfeiting), by benefiting from technical advances made over recent years.


During the development of New Zealand's new banknotes, the Reserve Bank consulted with representative groups about features to help people, who are blind or have low vision, to identify banknotes and distinguish denominations.

Feedback from this consultation indicated different note sizes, greater colour contrast between notes, large bold numerals, and clearer backgrounds would best assist this community.

Note gauges

In October 2016, the Reserve Bank made 5000 note gauges available free of charge to the Blind Foundation and Blind Citizens NZ for distribution. The pocket-size plastic gauge allows people with sight loss to determine a banknote’s denomination based on how it fits in the note gauge. The gauge features both braille and large, bold printed denominations. It works with both the old and new series of banknotes in circulation.

Photos of note gauges are available on Facebook

Banknote gauge for people with low vision video
Banknote gauge for people with low vision
Banknote gauge for people with low vision
Banknote gauges to help people with sight loss better identify New Zealand’s currency have been released by the Reserve Bank in collaboration with organisations representing the blindness community.

Other features

The tactile characteristics of the windows and the intaglio (raised) ink may provide assistance to people with blindness or low vision. The Reserve Bank considered using braille and other tactile features on the banknotes, but was not satisfied these could be incorporated into the notes without causing production, processing, and durability issues.

Both sets legal tender

Both sets of currency will circulate as legal tender.

Read our Bulletin article about legal tender (PDF 57KB)

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