Lonely Planet Writer

New Zealand scoops Bank Note of the Year with Sir Edmund Hilary design

New Zealand has emerged victorious after a tough battle in one the year’s most competitive contests; the Bank Note of the Year.

The front of the note features explorer Sir Edmund Hilary.
The front of the note features explorer Sir Edmund Hilary.

The winning design was the orange $5 note featuring explorer Sir Edmund Hillary on the front and the New Zealand-native yellow-eyed penguin on the back. The note was chosen out of 20 nominations from the local currencies of countries from around the world, including Sweden, Lebanon and Burundi.

The yellow-eyed penguin features heavily on the note.
The yellow-eyed penguin features heavily on the note.

The note was released as part of New Zealand’s ‘Brighter Money’ initiative. In an online statement, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Deputy Governor said the note “incorporates some of the world’s most advanced security features, yet still beautifully showcases New Zealand’s history, culture and heritage.”

The competition is run by the International Bank Note Society. The organisation exists to “advance the study and knowledge of worldwide banknotes and paper currencies” and the competition has been running since 2004 to “recognize an exceptional banknote issued each year.”

So what does it take to win Bank Note of the Year? New Zealand may have had strategy in mind when choosing a penguin to grace both the front and the back of the note as animals and wildlife are a popular choice among previous winners.

50 Dollar polymer Trinidad and Tobago note.
50 Dollar polymer Trinidad and Tobago note.

Trinidad and Tobago’s 2014 winner featured the red capped cardinal bird, while other birds such as the purple sandpipe and Bermuda Bluebirds have all been on winning designs. Kazakhstan opted for a double-whammy in 2012 with a design that included both dove and a panther.

The Maldives 1,000 Rufiyaa note.
The Maldives 1,000 Rufiyaa note.

If currency design is something that intrigues you, you have plenty of time to nominate an issued banknote for the award next year. Currently there’s only nomination in, the rather beautiful blue and turquoise 1000 Rufiyaa Note from the Maldives.