The Rugby World Cup wasn't the only stage where New Zealand shone last year - our new look five dollar note has won "Bank Note of the Year" for 2015.

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) has just announced the prize - with our Edmund Hillary note beating out more than three dozen rivals.

"Whilst New Zealand 's $5 polymer note was a clear winner, runners-up in very tight voting were Sweden's 20 Kronor note depicting children's author Astrid Lindgren, Russia's 100 Ruble note illustrating Crimean landmarks, Kazakhstan's 20,000 Tenge note and Scotland's (Clydesdale Bank) 5 Pound polymer note.

From all significantly new designed and widely circulated banknotes released in 2015, the IBNS membership nominated notes from a record 20 countries to place on the ballot.


Our Reserve Bank began releasing a new family of "Brighter Money" banknotes last year, beginning with the $5 and $10 denominations.

Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company, each orange and brown $5 note displays a map of New Zealand in a polymer window along with a variety of upgraded security features.

The face features legendary New Zealand mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary and Mount Cook (Aoraki). A colour changing yellow-eyed (hoiho) penguin completes the face design.

Watch: Prime Minister John Key at the unveiling of new banknotes last year:

New $5 and $10 banknotes have been revealed - and the Reserve Bank says it is possible the redesign will be the last, midst speculation of a move to cashless society. New Zealand's banknotes are being redesigned at an additional cost of $40 million over five years, in a bid to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand said the award was "testament to the hard work and innovation by the Bank and its partners that has gone into developing the note."

"We are proud of all of New Zealand's new banknotes, but to have our $5 note recognised internationally is very special. The note incorporates some of the world's most advanced security features, yet still beautifully showcases New Zealand's history, culture and heritage," he said.

The $5 and $10 notes have been in circulation since October. The new $20, $50 and $100 notes will come into circulation from May 16.

The International Bank Note Society said polymer banknotes were increasingly popular because of durability as well as enhanced security features and had become favoured by many collectors.