An Australian family living in Hamilton have explained why they chose to give up their New South Wales life in favour of semi-rural living in New Zealand.

The 20-year trend of more New Zealanders moving to Australia than vice versa was broken in February 2016 when New Zealand had a net gain of 800 migrants from the Lucky Country.

The August 2017 migration figures from Statistics New Zealand showed a net gain of 226 Australian migrants, down from 1800 a year earlier.

Three years ago, former New South Wales residents David and Kylie Craig moved with their three children to a two-acre (0.8ha) block 10 minutes from Hamilton.

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Mr Craig told Australia's Nine News the family's semi-rural lifestyle change was unattainable in Sydney.

"To do that in Australia or to do that in Sydney you're looking at an hour, hour-and-a-half outside of Sydney before you could even get close to anything like this," he said.

"We lived in Sydney all our lives so coming over here was an opportunity for us to experience something different."

Teenage daughter Charlotte Craig told Nine News she hadn't heard much about New Zealand before the move.

"All I actually knew about New Zealand was sheep."

The family also decided to move to New Zealand because of the proximity to Sydney.

"It's much easier for us to get home to family and so forth, it's much easier for us to be here," Mrs Craig said.

Statistics New Zealand's Kim Dunston told Nine News the more positive net migration flows over the last couple of years coincided with a slight reversal of unemployment rates in New Zealand.