Helen Clark has phoned John Key to concede the election.
Key is about to head to National's headquarters with just five per cent of the vote left to count.
National has enough support to govern in coalition with Act and United Future. It would not need the Maori Party.
National has 45.5 per cent of the vote to Labour's 33.3 per cent.
Progressive Leader Jim Anderton has congratulated Key on his victory and wished him well, but he is promising to keep a close eye on the incoming right wing government from opposition.
"I'm going to enjoy the next three years in a way. I'm a good guerilla fighter and there's a lot to fight for I can tell you."
Act had a strong showing with 3.7 per cent of the vote.
Winston Peters has lost his Tauranga seat and his New Zealand First party will not make the five per cent threshold to reclaim a place in Parliament.
One of the key Labour seats and most famous Labour names has been tipped out of Parliament.
National's young candidate, Nikki Kaye, beat incumbent Judith Tizard by in the Auckland Central electorate.
Tizard had held the seat since 1996.
The historic West Coast seat has fallen to National.
The result is a morale blow for Labour, since it was partly on the Coast among the miners that the Labour party was born.
The seat, on the west coast of the South Island, has traditionally been a safe seat in its party homeland.
But in 2005 Labour Minister Damien O'Connor held the seat by just 2154 votes.
But electorate changes meant it took in some small rural settlements from the Nelson electorate, making it more marginal.
Phil Goff admitted earlier this evening that Labour was now facing a very difficult fight and says National has a better ability to put together a coalition.
"We are coming from behind. We knew that and we knew it would be difficult," Mr Goff said.
"The National Party has a greater ability to put together a coalition."
In a round-up:
- Hamilton East: With 95 per cent of the vote counted David Bennett is opening a massive 7814 lead over Sue Moroney.
- Things are much closer in Hamilton West where National's Tim MacIndoe has a 1546 lead over incumbent Martin Gallagher with 97% of votes counted.
Gallagher beat MacIndoe by just 825 votes last time so this is a rematch.
- New Plymouth: This seat, held by Labour senior party member Harry Dynhoven, was shaping up to be very marginal but has gone to Jonathan Young for National by 314 votes.
- Palmerston North is a similar close race but Labour just winning by 1050.
Meanwhile, National's Nikki Kaye won Auckland Central.
Labour won narrowly in Wellington Central and leads in Christchurch Central by 853 votes with 96 per cent of votes counted.
Key spoke for the first time from his home earlier, telling TV3 he is "cautiously optimistic".
In other key trends so far:
- The New Zealand First vote appears to be sliding slowly away from the 5 per cent threshold and Winston Peters has conceded in Tauranga.
- The Greens seem to have had a reasonably good result, picking up 6.5 per cent of the vote.
- The Maori Party could pick up a fifth seat - South Island's Te Tai Tonga - and maybe even a clean sweep with Labour's two strongest candidates in a dogfight in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Hauraki seats.