This South Pacific Island Nation Uses Disney Characters on Money

The Beautiful Waters of Niue
The Beautiful Waters of Niue | © vuorikari / Flickr
Joe Coates

We’ve all thought about it during one daydream or another. What would we do if we owned our own island nation? There are some great and interesting currencies out there, but Niue might just take the cake when it comes to having fun with its money.

Loved by over 40s

Now, we’ve all heard people refer to fake money as “Mickey Mouse money,” but, on the tiny island nation of Niue, Mickey Mouse money is as real as money can be — even more real perhaps.

Mickey Working Some Magic on Niue’s Currency

Where is this happening?

If you’re slightly unfamiliar with this tiny Pacific island nation then that can be forgiven. Niue is a very small, very lowly populated island in the South Pacific. It lies basically in the messy triangular tangle of islands formed by Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa. Although it is small, Niue is one of the biggest raised coral atolls on Earth. If you’re looking to get there from New Zealand, you can fly direct from Auckland, and it’ll only take you three hours as it is only about 2,400 kilometres northeast from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

T is for Tails, T is for Turtle

Is all the money Disney money?

Let us just say from the off that Niue isn’t some wonderful, hopeful, warmhearted land where the local government has decided to shake off the shackles of boring, old currency in favour of something that’ll put a smile on your dial every time you go to the shops to buy a pint of milk. No, it’s not all 10-cent coins with Aladdin on them we’re afraid. This little nation actually uses the New Zealand dollar as their currency, as they have a “free association” with the New Zealand government. Among other things, this means that Niue has its economy subsidised by NZ — reckoned to be around $6,000 NZD per person per year. That may sound like a lot, but the population of Niue has sadly plummeted in recent years due to increased job opportunities overseas. It now stands at a mere 1,300 or so — down from 5,200 at its peak in 1966.

Tamakautoga, Niue

Why then?

It all started in 2014 and was a way for the small nation to gain some awareness on the world stage. A happy side-effect of this is that this new money is raking in the cash among coin collectors. The coins themselves have a face value of two dollars. However, this would be a stunningly bad mistake because the coins are actually worth up to NZ$755 a pop! As we’ve said, coin collectors are going bonkers for these coins, and the latest deal struck with the NZ mint — who produce the coins — could be worth up to $6 million over 10 years.

What sort of characters can you expect to see?

Well, as of this writing, the collection has expanded dramatically from the first coin that was minted, which depicted Steamboat Willie — the first film to depict Mickey Mouse — and now encompasses a range of our favourite movie characters and different films. These include Darth Vadar, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Jurassic Park, Woody from Toy Story, Yoda, Bambi, Lightning McQueen from Cars, the Avengers, Rapunzel and Goofy. There’s even a beautiful two-piece set of Donald Duck available. The cost? Almost NZ$4,500! You wouldn’t want that to get mixed in with your change down at the fish and chip shop!

Donald is Worth a Mint

So I can spend them?

You can spend the money only if you to travel all the way to Niue, and really, why wouldn’t you? The island is a paradise and prides itself on what it doesn’t have. The list of things they’re deficient in includes crowds, queues and traffic lights. It can’t be bad.

No traffic lights here

So even though you can buy the coins from anywhere in the world, through the NZ Mint, the only place you could spend an NZ$800 coin on a two-dollar cocktail is on the fantastic island of Niue. This is the only place on this wonderful planet that it is considered legal tender. So why not go and check it out?

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.