New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

Butterflies 1991 Definitives

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New Zealand is home to 23 species of butterflies. Butterflies belong to the insect order Lepidoptera, which is dominated by the butterfly's close relative - the moth. All 23 species of butterflies resident in New Zealand display different shapes, colours and patterns and live in a wide range of environments from forest floors and swamps, to domestic gardens and rocky alpine areas.

Issue information

Various factors distinguish butterflies from moths, but in New Zealand there is one sure way of knowing which is which. Butterflies have knobs on the end of their antennae, while moths do not.

The original stamps were printed by Leigh-Mardon Pty Ltd, however later reprints of several values were produced by The House of Questa.

The $1 stamp was also reproduced by Southern Colour Print in 1995 in a trial AirPost stamp booklet.

Product listing for Butterflies 1991 Definitives

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Forest Ringlet (Dodonidia helmsii)' gummed stamp.

The Forest Ringlet is the most vividly coloured of all New Zealand butterflies. It has a wingspan ranging from 40-60mm and its flight is jaunty and fast. It lives in forested localities in the North Island and in the north of the South Island. Its favourite food plants are forest sedges and forest snowgrasses.

Issued 6 November 1991. The initial printings were by Leigh-Mardon with subsequent reprints by The House of Questa. The stamp also appeared in a trial Airpost booklet in 1995, printed by Southern Colour Print. 

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Southern Blue (Zizina otis oxleyi)' gummed stamp.

The Southern Blue is one of the smallest and most abundant of New Zealand butterflies. This species prefers warm, dry places less than 1,000 metres above sea level and it can be found east of the Southern Alps and in North Canterbury. The Southern Blue has a wingspan of between 20-27mm and its flight is weak and stuttering. It flies just above ground level with frequent stops.

Issued 6 November 1991
First two printings produced by Leigh-Mardon, third printing produced by The House of Questa.


Single Stamp

Single $3.00 'Yellow Admiral (Bassaris itea)' gummed stamp.

The Yellow Admiral is found throughout New Zealand. It prefers open country, wastelands and gardens where stinging nettle - this species' first choice of food plant - has become established. The Yellow Admiral is often seen flying with the slightly larger Red Admiral. With a wingspan of 48-55mm, the Yellow Admiral is a strong flier.

Issued 6 Novermber 1991
First three printings produced by Leigh-Mardon, fourth printing produced by The House of Questa.

Single Stamp

Single $4.00 'Common Copper (Lycaena salustius)' gummed stamp. Issued 25 January 1995

The common copper is found only in New Zealand. This butterfly feeds off the Muehlenbeckia creeper, and will often be found wherever that plant grows, as well as in coastal areas and open spaces throughout New Zealand.

Single Stamp

Red Admiral (Bassaris gonerilla) - $5.00 gummed stamp. Issued 25 January 1995.

This spectacular butterfly is found throughout New Zealand in the summer months. The host plant, and favoured food of the Red Admiral, is the native stinging nettle or ongaonga. But because its supply has been much reduced, it can also be seen feeding from the sap of tree bark. The Maori name for this butterfly is Kahukura, meaning rainbow or red garment.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on first day of issue. $6.25
Presentation Pack  In a colourful Presentation Pack which included three bright butterfly in full colour illustraions and background information. $7.90

Technical information

Date of issue: 6 November 1991
Designers: Pauline Morse, Pukerua Bay, NZ
Printers: Leigh-Mardon, Australia; Southern Colour Print, New Zealand; House of Questa, England
Stamp size: 29mm x 35mm; Miniature Sheet: 115mm x 100mm
Sheet size: 50 stamps per sheet; Miniature Sheet of one stamp
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: Leigh-Mardon stamps: 14.25; Southern Colour Print stamps: 11 x 11.25; Questa stamps: 13.75 x 14.25
Paper type: Various paper types, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 6 November 1992.