The Arctic Tern is the fourth great migration silver coin from Niue

Great Migrations, one of the New Zealand Mints 2016 silver coin series, and one of the best in our view, has now launched its fourth coin. Featuring the simply amazing mass migrations of animals, something that David Attenborough himself has frequently marvelled at, the series is a look at the natural world from a different angle to most others in the numismatic world.

The series debuted back in May and the first release depicted the mass migration of more than two million Zebras across the Serengeti, the second the countless numbers of Monarch butterflies across North American. The previous coin, launched just a month ago is all about the Caribou and its epic 3,000 mile walk. We’re back in the air with the Arctic Tern for the latest coin (the image above is a Sooty Tern btw).

The longest migration ever recorded, a tagged bird from the Farne Islands, a nature reserve off the NE coast of England, flew an incredible 59,650 miles on its journey to Antarctica and back. That’s more than twice the circumference of the planet, a mind-boggling number. Starting its journey in July and arriving in Antarctica in November, this small seabird (weighing just 100g) dips into the sea to catch fish to eat on the long trek.

The design is the well-liked one seen on previous entries, a mass depiction of the animal in question, clean-struck, but with selected individuals picked out in colour. We know many collectors are dismissive of colour, but these are fine examples of the use of the selective application of it to add focus to a busy design. We don’t believe these would work as well without it, this one especially so. The obverse, as is typical for NZM Niue issues, just the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II surrounded by the usual coin inscriptions, the reverse face being thankfully free of all but the composition in a very small font. Packaging is first class, fully customised for the coin and of a type that we wish more would use. It’s neat, well put together and convenient to store.

What’s coming next? Other epic migrations include whales (mammals), leatherback turtles (reptiles), dragonflies (insects) and godwits (birds), so perhaps one of those, or perhaps something else. It would just be good to see the series continue as, like the mints Warriors of History series, they’re proof that the NZ Mint does more than popular-culture coins, and does them well. Available later today for $80, with mintage limited to 3,000, I like this one a lot.


Arctic Tern silver coin 2016 Niue
Arctic Tern silver coin box 2016 Niue


One of nature’s most impressive wonders is displayed each year, when millions of animals start their great annual migration, covering vast distances in search for food, mating partners or shelter.

Arctic Terns are known to complete the longest yearly migration of any animal, in terms of distance. This little bird travels along the same route, and covers a distance of at least 25,000 miles from their Arctic breeding grounds to Antarctica and back, each year.

The Arctic Tern makes this long journey to Antarctica for food, rest, and for the warmer summers. Recent research shown that Arctic terns use a combination of navigational tools such as wind, the Earth’s magnetic field and visual clues to navigate this extraordinary journey.

REVERSE:  shows a flock of migrating Arctic Tern. The engraved background is highlighted with a few coloured Arctic Terns to add further interest.

PACKAGING: comes in a compact printed rectangular coin case, which incorporates an impressive, printed scene of this great migration. The uniquely numbered Certificate of Authenticity is presented within the packaging.




$2 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 40.0 mm PROOF 3,000 YES / YES