Have you noticed that your cash till is looking a bit different? It could be that you’ve already received some of New Zealand’s new banknotes.

New $5 and $10 notes started to be released by the Reserve Bank in mid-October, with $20, $50 and $100 notes coming in April next year.

The new notes look kind of the same, but kind of different, as you can see on the Reserve Bank’s Brighter Money website.

You may not see a new note for some time because $5s, and in many cases $10 notes, are not dispensed though ATMs. Retailers and the public tend to recirculate these notes among themselves, so they don’t end up back at the Reserve Bank for replacement as often as the $20, $50s and $100s.

It could take 18 months before the current banknotes are out of circulation, but both the new and old notes remain legal tender for the foreseeable future. There’s no plan to actively withdraw the old notes.

These are the new and updated features:

  • A colour-changing bar on the bird graphic.
  • Larger clear window, with a holographic foil feature, that includes an image of a bird, a map of New Zealand, a silver fern and an embossed numeral.
  • Puzzle number forming a small numeral.
  • Raised ink on the large denomination number.

But some things stay the same – the notes are the same size and they’re still made out of plastic.

So you’ll still see Sir Edmund Hillary and Mt Cook on the $5 note, and Kate Sheppard on the $10.

We don’t have a counterfeiting problem in New Zealand, but the notes have been upgraded to keep ahead of the counterfeiters, with the latest security features.

If you do receive a suspect banknote, it’s important to minimise your handling of the note to help authorities trace the culprit. Store it in a bag or envelope as soon as possible and inform the Police immediately.