National Party leader Bill English expects a phone call with Winston Peters in the next few days to start negotiating the formation of a new government.
English has spoken to media from his hotel in Auckland. He repeatedly said a two-party coalition would be more stable than one made up by Labour, the Green Party and New Zealand First.
"If we had the vote that the Labour Party got then we would be talking about how to deal with being in Opposition.
"Almost one in two New Zealanders supported National. Voters have given us the task of forming a government with New Zealand First."
English said he was keen to get on with the job of forming a government, but would work at the pace New Zealand First was prepared to move at.
When special votes are counted it is possible a couple of seats could change hands, English conceded. But he said that wouldn't alter the fact a National-NZF coalition would be more stable than any option available to Labour.
He would talk to Peters about the best approach to negotiations. Both Peters and National had experience with such discussions.
"I can't speak for Mr Peters about what he wants to do ... our objective is clear-cut - we want to set about forming a strong and stable government with a reasonable majority in the House ... with a 10-point lead over the Labour Party we are in a pretty strong position to be able to do that."
English said he had spoken to David Seymour and the Act leader "understands how the numbers stack up".
"The shortest path to stable government is a two-party coalition between National and New Zealand First."
A three-way coalition with a "weaker" Labour Party would be "quite complex", English said, saying last night's results had been "reasonably decisive".