- Provisional results: National: 46% / 58 seats; Labour 35.8% / 45 seats; NZ First 7.5% / 9 seats; Greens 5.9% / 7 seats; ACT 0.5% / 1 seat
NZ First leader Winston Peters says he is just thankful to have survived the election, lambasting the media and National and Labour for treating it as if it was a First Past the Post campaign rather than MMP.
Peters holds the balance of power and speaking from Russell this morning, said he was yet to have any phone calls with National leader Bill English or Labour's Jacinda Ardern, and hit out at media for asking. He planned to go out on his boat later this afternoon.
"Let's stop the mirage and the facade here, we all know what has to happen. So all this talk about making phone calls will not be happening from NZ First's point of view."
He said he would deal with it "responsibly" and would take to his colleagues and board "and then let you know what I'm going to do."
He told journalists it was an MMP environment and the 'two old parties' did not have the answers to the future.
"You spent all the time sucking up to the two old parties and this afternoon trying to make a decision and tomorrow trying to make a decision but they won't have the cards that matter."
There's no guarantee Winston Peters will side with his former party in coalition negotiations, according to people close to the man of the moment.
Newstalk ZB's political editor Barry Soper says he's spoken to people close to Peters this morning, and the sense is nobody should take it for granted that National will lead the next government.
If Peters was to go with Labour, the coalition would also require the support of the Greens.
Peters is expected to hold a breakfast meeting with his campaign team at the Duke of Marlborough in Russell as National and Labour talk up their ability to work with New Zealand First.
National's performance has put it in the box seat to form a Government with Peters' support, but speaking on TVNZ's Q + A Twyford made clear that Labour was "still in the game".
"For me, the takeaway from last night is Jacinda absolutely transformed Labour ... we are in the game. There are two scenarios here - one with National, one with Labour."
Twyford said Labour had a good relationship with Peters - and that was a stronger relationship than National had with NZ First. There were similarities between Labour and New Zealand First, he said, citing housing.
"National set out to deliberately humiliate Winston Peters in Northland ... it could be the rough and tumble of coalition negotiations, too."
However, National campaign chair Steven Joyce told Newstalk ZB his party had things in common with New Zealand First, such as regional growth being a priority.
The parties' views on immigration were "less dissimilar" than might be apparent, with Peters having recognised the need for skilled workers on farms, for example, Joyce said.
In an interview with Q + A, Joyce said the nature of MMP meant nobody had a right to form Government.
"But I think everybody will look at the fact that nearly one in two New Zealanders chose the direction we are heading in ... obviously people want to take note of that.
"A number of our people have good relationships with not just Winston but his team ... the Prime Minister will start on that today.
"People like Gerry Brownlee remembers the last time we were involved in this process and that it takes a bit of time. But 46 per cent of New Zealanders have voted for the direction we are heading in."
With Peters as the kingmaker, the future isn't looking too bright for Act Party leader David Seymour.
Barry Soper says the election result has left Seymour as something of a spare part, and that National may have to dump Paula Bennett from the Deputy Prime Minister's office to make way for Peters.
Meanwhile, at Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's Pt Chevalier home this morning, all is quiet except for a handful of passing drivers who slowed down and pointed towards the freshly painted garage door. Her diplomatic protection squad have turned up.
The first and only character to surface from the Labour leader's house hold is a ginger and white cat.
There's no sign of English yet at the Pullman hotel where he is staying in central Auckland. He said in an interview with Newstalk ZB overnight the plan for this morning was a sleep-in.
"Everyone will need one after what's been a long campaign as well as an intensive one.
"But tomorrow will be thanking our volunteers and core party activists because they've done a fantastic job and then we will have a discussion with senior cabinet ministers about how we are going to approach the next phase.
"And be talking to the media of course and heading into planning for next week."
English said overnight that the first step was to enjoy the result.
"The second step is moving from that pretty strong result - around 46 per cent of the vote - to working with NZ First to see if we can form a strong and coherent Government so New Zealand can get on with, continue with this economic success we have had."
He said he hadn't yet spoken to Winston Peters about a coalition but the conversation would happen "in the next few days".
When asked if he felt "under pressure" when polls showed Labour in the lead, he said: "If you believe in your message and the cause you are fighting for then a few setbacks here and there don't knock you off."
When asked whether Jacinda Ardern's campaign had influenced his own, he said: "We always thought it was going to be a tight, tough election ... certainly the public got a lot more interested in it and I think it brought out the best in me and in my team because we had the opportunity with a listening, attentive public to be part of this pretty intensive debate abotu the future of New Zealand."
Green Party leader James Shaw is not completely ruling out making an approach to National, but is saying it is highly, highly unlikely.
"We campaigned on a platform of change," he told TVNZ's Q+A this morning.
The National-led Government had a fundamentally different approach to its key goals on climate change, cleaning up rivers and poverty.
However, he added that "literally nothing is off the table", including a confidence and supply agreement with National.
Shaw will speak with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern later today.
He would not reveal his party's bottom lines for any negotiations, but he said it would prioritise climate change, cleaning up rivers and ending poverty in any talks.