The stamps in this issue were selected from over 2,400 entries in a design
competition with the brief to include a representation of characteristic or
notable New Zealand scenery in the design and a stamp issue symbolic of the
land. The quality of the winning entries were so great that a decision was
made to print the issue using the more expensive recess printing method,
with the anticipation that costs would be covered many times over by sales
to stamp collectors.
If you have any questions or comments please contact us - we'd love to hear from you.
The issue, following the lead of New South
Wales, was one of the world's earliest pictorial definitive issues. The
stamps were engraved in England along with initial printings, and
subsequently printed in New Zealand from new plates supplied from
The same denominations were printed as the Second Sidefaces
with a new 9d stamp for overseas parcels, and two and five shilling stamps
for parcels, fiscals and telegrams.
The half pence stamp features
Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Two alpine flowers are
featured on the stamp - the Ranunculus and Celmisia.
The one penny
stamp features Lake Taupo with Mount Ruapehu in the background and a
Cabbage Tree on the left. It was the first two colour printed stamp in New
Zealand. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand covering over 600
square kilometers. The lake is well known for rainbow trout which were
introduced in 1884.
The twopence stamp features Pembroke Peak in
The two and a half pence stamp features Lake
Wakatipu. Initially printed with Wakatipu incorrectly spelt Wakitipu, a new
plate with the correct spelling was produced a month after the initial
issue. Interest amongst collectors for the original error was so high
though, that special printings were made and the mint stamp is easy to
track down, although used copies are rarer. Wakatipu is the second largest
lake in the South Island and lies at the southern end of the Southern Alps
in Central Otago. Mount Earnslaw is shown in the background and New Zealand
flax, cabbage trees and toi toi frame the scene.
stamp features the Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), a now extinct New
Zealand native bird. The Huia was prized for its plumage, and tail feathers
were used by Maori as symbols of rank and adornment by chiefs.
fourpence features the White Terraces which were produced by geothermally
heated water which left thick white layers of limestone. Located on the
edges of Lake Rotomahana near Rotorua, they were considered the eighth
wonder of the natural world until they were completely destroyed by the
violent volcanic eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. The eruption claimed
around 150 lives and is the most violent and destructive volcanic eruption
in recent history.
The five penny stamp features Otira Gorge with
an inset view of Mount Ruapehu. Otira Gorge, in the central South Island,
is on the original stagecoach run from Canterbury to the West Coast. A
railway line was later built from Greymouth to Otira. Mount Ruapehu is one
of the world's most active volcanoes, located southwest of the southern
shore of Lake Taupo, within Tongariro National Park. The North Island's
major skifields and only glaciers are located on its slopes.
sixpence stamp features the Kiwi, the species of flightless birds endemic
to New Zealand. Kiwis are about the size of a domestic chicken and all
species are endangered. The kiwi is a national symbol of New
The eight penny stamp contains a graphic eight with a maori
war canoe on the lower circle of the eight and a crown in the upper circle.
Tree Ferns are drawn to the left of the eight and Cabbage Trees on the
The nine penny stamp features the Pink Terraces, which were
destroyed along with the White Terraces by the explosive eruption of Mount
Tarawera on the 10th of June, 1886.
The one shilling stamp features
the Kea and Kaka. The Kea (on the left) is a species of parrot found in
forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. It is one
of the few alpine parrots in the world. The Kea is uncommon and received
full protection in 1986. Kea are reknown for their intelligence and
curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment and
are often described as "cheeky". The KÄkÄ (on the right) is
a parrot endemic to the forests of New Zealand and its name is the MÄori
language word for "parrot". The Kaka is closely related to the
Kea but has darker plumage.
The two shilling stamp features Milford
Sound (Piopiotahi). Milford Sound is the northenmost of a number of fjords
in the south west of New Zealand's South Island within Fiordland
National Park. It is New Zealand's most famous tourist destination and
is named after Milford Haven in Wales. Mitre Peak is shown on the right of
The five shilling stamp shows Mount Cook reflected in
Lake Tekapo. Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It is part
of the Southern Alps - the mountain range which runs the length of the
This page was last updated on 21 Sep 2020
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