Wairarapa retailers are welcoming the new $20, $50 and $100 notes with improved security features.

The new bank notes were launched on Monday in Wellington.

Making them harder to counterfeit but easier for people to check, the new money has a native bird icon that changes colour when the note is tilted, a large clear window with a detailed metallic element, and a "puzzle number" which is visible when held up to the light.

Masterton Thirsty Liquor owner Raj Patel said the new notes would be too hard for fraudsters to replicate, with the larger, clear and detailed window.


"That sort of thing is not possible in a photocopy. Security-wise it's a lot better and harder now for people to do fake notes."

Last year a man had tried to use a fake $50 note to buy alcohol from Mr Patel's store.

Mr Patel said the man had a bottle of tequila in one hand, placed a scrunched up note on the counter and briskly walked out of the store. He said it had taken him "three to five seconds" to realise the scrunched up note was fake.

"As soon as we opened it we could tell, it didn't look like a good fake because it was printed on paper not plastic."

Mr Patel said the man made a quick getaway in a vehicle, the number plate of which he reported to the police.

Having owned businesses in Masterton for 11 years, last year's incident had been Mr Patel's only encounter with counterfeit money.

Featherston's Kia Ora dairy and Thirsty Liquor owners Nilam and Hiran Patel have also had one instance when someone tried, unsuccessfully, to spend a counterfeit $50 note at their store.

Mrs Patel said thankfully her husband had recognised the note to be a fraud and refused the sale.

She said with the new $5 and $10 notes, which were released in October last year, it was easy to tell if it was genuine money.

"On the clear area you can see all those colourful lines. If you hold it up by the light you can see the nice silverfern inside the bird."

She said they often checked the money coming through their store, but for some store owners it was not always possible.

Last year a Masterton man was charged after he, on two occasions, successfully used a fake $50 note at a Wellington KFC, both times receiving change and a meal.

Designed by the Canadian Banknote Company in Ottawa, Canada, the new notes are the same size as current ones and are made of the same material.

They have the value shown in larger print, come in brighter colours and have a clearer design, which the Reserve Bank hopes will help blind and visually-impaired people.

Noteworthy points:

How to spot a fake note -- Notes have two clear windows -- one oval and one fern shaped. Check that they're both there and don't look stuck on.

Look for the watermark -- when you hold the note to the light you should see a shadow of the queen next to the oval window.

Look at the note through a magnifying glass -- "RBNZ" is printed on the notes in tiny letters.

Run your fingers over the note -- you should be able to feel raised printing.

Check the two serial numbers on the note -- they should match. If you have notes with the same serial, some or all of them could be fake.

Whip out your ultraviolet light. Special ink means the notes look dull except for special features -- like the big numbers, which will glow if real.

All images will appear sharp and defined, not fuzzy and washed out.

Above the fern-shaped window is a fern facing the other way -- hold the note to the light to check it matches the one on the opposite side.

There should not be any blotches or runny bits of ink, because the notes are made with water resistant polymer inks. What to do with a suspicious note

If you think one of the notes does not have all the security features, try to avoid handling it so police can trace the counterfeiter.

You should either refuse to accept it or store it in a bag or envelope and inform police.