2016-2017 KINGS OF THE CONTINENTS by the New Zealand Mint

Despite the concentration on their very high profile Disney and Star Wars properties, the New Zealand Mint has always found time to have a few history and nature series on the go at the same time. Moving away from an annual release schedule, the last couple of years has seen sets of coins released at much faster rates. Kings of the Continents is one such series. On the surface an unambitious range of simple coloured coins, there remains a constant demand for nature coins, and these are certainly attractively produced examples of the genre.

The series looks at the apex predators on continents around the world. We’ve had Africa (Lion), Europe (Wolf), Asia (Cobra), North America (Grizzly Bear), South America (Jaguar ) and Australia (Saltwater Crocodile). We’re going to assume that Antarctica is yet to come, maybe the Leopard Seal, or even the Orca, although the latter ranges worldwide. With current research looking at New Zealand being situated on a seperate continental plate dubbed ‘Zealandia’, it would be pretty cool to see an eighth coin, the first for the fledgling continent. A coin for the seas/oceans might be a good one as well.

Struck in 1oz of fine 0.999 silver and issued for the NZ protectorate of Niue Island, the coins have a mintage of 5,000 each. Each reverse face depicts the animal, usually in a ‘portrait’ form, against a clean background showing the creatures habitat. Outside of the composition the reverse side is thankfully free of inscriptions. Packaging is well done, much better than a standard snapper case. It features a tray that slides out from a thick, brightly coloured shipper box, each neatly themed in a stylised way to represent the area the coin subject inhabits.

The first five coins are dated 2016, those after dated 2017. As we said earlier, not an ambitious series, but what it does, it does well and with nature and wildlife coins always seemingly having an audience, the numismatic market will continue to be well served by new releases. Each coin was issued at a price of $80.00 USD.


The African lion is one of the two sub-species of lions in the world today. Their living habitat extends from the south Saharan desert to parts of southern and eastern Africa, where they inhabit grassy plains, savannahs and scrublands. The rough landscapes and long grass allow the hunting female lions to silently creep up on and ambush their unsuspecting prey. Their diet consists of a wide variety of prey such as wildebeest, impala, zebra, giraffe and buffalo as well as smaller animals such as hares, birds and reptiles.

Male lions are usually larger than females in size and have a distinctive mane of hair around their heads. A male lion can measure up to 6.5 feet (2 m.) in length from its head to its rump and weigh up to 420 lbs. (191 kg’s).

African lions are the only cats which have close-knit and affectionate social groups and the only ones that regularly hunt in groups. A typical African lion pride consists of approximately 15 members; one to three males, around a dozen females, and their cubs and young ones. It is not unusual to see expressions of fondness amongst African lions in the form of head-rubbing, licking, touching and purring. The roar of a lion can carry a distance of up to 8 km.


Oce prevalent over most of Europe, Asia and North America, the habitat of the grey wolf has been diminished because of widespread human encroachment of its habitat. The global population is today estimated at approximately 400,000 animals. Europe, excluding Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, has an estimated population of 12,000 wolves across 28+ countries. Once widespread in Europe, wolves were dramatically reduced in number throughout the early nineteenth century, due to intense hunting.  The recovery of European wolf populations only began after the 1950s, when traditional pastoral lifestyles were replaced by farming, removing the need to heavily persecute wolves. Today the grey wolf is protected in parts of Europe and is recovering in population overall.

Being carnivores, they hunt deer, moose and caribou as well as smaller mammals such as hares and squirrels. The positive ripple effects of wolves on keeping the eco system in balance is only recently started to be understood and fully appreciated. Wolves have strong social bonds and typically mate for life. They live and hunt in packs of 7 to 8 animals on average, consisting of the alpha mother and alpha father wolves, their pups and older offspring. In the wild, they usually live up to 13 years old and in captivity, they live upwards of 15 years.


King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), named after the 11 scales on its head (instead of after its’  11 large scales on his head ) resembling a King’s crown, is the longest venomous snake on the planet and can grow up to 7.3m (24 feet) long. This awe-inspiring snake is found in Asia; India, southeastern China, the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and the Philippine Islands. Being great climbers and excellent swimmers, their preferred spots are ponds and streams in rain forests.

Fast moving and with amazing agility, the King Cobra hunts and eats small mammals,  lizards and birds as well as other snakes.

The only snake in the world to make a nest for its eggs, the female King Cobra makes an intricate nest of leaves, and remains in the nest until the young hatch. New-born snakes leave their nests as soon as they have hatched.

The King Cobra has two deadly fangs in the front of his mouth, used to inject venom into its prey. The venom is mostly comprised of neurotoxins, which attack the central nervous system. Only one fatal bite by the King Cobra is enough to cause paralysis or coma, leading to respiratory failure and death.


The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.) is a large subspecies of brown bear inhabiting North America. Most adult female grizzlies weigh 130–180 kg, while adult males weigh on average 180–360 kg. Average total length in this subspecies is 198 cm, with an average shoulder height of 102 cm. An occasional huge male grizzly has been recorded which greatly exceeds ordinary size, with weights reported up to 680 kg (1,500 lb). A large coastal male of this size may stand up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) tall on its hind legs and be up to 1.5 metres at the shoulder.

Brown bears are found in Asia, Europe, and North America, giving them the widest ranges of bear species. In North America, grizzly bears range from Alaska, south through much of western Canada, and into portions of the northwestern United States (including Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming), extending as far south as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It is most commonly found in Canada.

Although grizzlies are of the order Carnivora and have the digestive system of carnivores, they are normally omnivores: their diets consist of both plants and animals. They have been known to prey on large mammals, when available, such as moose, elk, caribou, white-tailed deer, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bison, and even black bears; though they are more likely to take calves and injured individuals rather than healthy adults. Grizzly bears feed on fish such as salmon, trout, and bass, and those with access to a more protein-enriched diet in coastal areas potentially grow larger than inland individuals. Grizzly bears also readily scavenge food or carrion left behind by other animals. Grizzly bears will also eat birds and their eggs, and gather in large numbers at fishing sites to feed on spawning salmon.


The Jaguar (Panthera onca), is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest cat in the world, reaching up to 2.15m (7 feet) in length and up to 90 kg (200 pounds) in weight. Native to the Americas, these stunning, now-endangered animals once roamed a vast area from Argentina to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Today, Jaguars are only found in very few locations in South and Central America.

The Jaguar has a compact body, a broad head and powerful jaws. Its coat is normally yellow and tan, but can vary from reddish brown to black, with black spots and rosettes covering its coat. A carnivore, the Jaguar eats anything it can catch and with its extremely strong jaws and sharp teeth, it usually kills its prey with one crushing bite to the skull.

Excellent at climbing and crawling, the Jaguar hunts mostly on the ground, but sometimes it climbs a tree to pounce on its prey from above. Unlike most other big cats, the Jaguar loves the water and often swims and hunts for fish in rivers and ponds.


The Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), also known as saltie, estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world. The males of this species can reach sizes of up to 6.7 m (22 ft) and weigh as much as 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). However, an adult male saltwater crocodile is generally between 4.3 and 5.2 m (14 and 17 ft) in length and weighs 400–1,000 kg (880–2,200 lb), rarely growing larger. Females are much smaller and often do not surpass 3 m (9.8 ft). As its name implies, this crocodile can live in salt water, but usually resides in mangrove swamps, estuaries, deltas, lagoons, and lower stretches of rivers. They have the broadest distribution of any modern crocodile, ranging from the eastern coast of India, throughout most of Southeast Asia, stretching south to northern Australia, and historically ranging as far west as just beyond the eastern coast of Africa and as far east as waters off the coast of Japan.

The saltwater crocodile is a formidable and opportunistic hypercarnivorous “apex” ambush predator capable of taking almost any animal that enters its territory, including fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and mammals, including other predators. Due to their size and distribution, saltwater crocodiles are the most dangerous extant crocodilian to humans.


OBVERSE: This features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The inscriptions ‘ELIZABETH II’, ‘NIUE’, ‘TWO DOLLARS’, and the date of issue surround the effigy

PACKAGING: The coin is encased in an elegant themed box which slides open to reveal the coin nestled in a black velvet interior. The uniquely numbered certificate of authenticity sits within the packaging.


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