Key Points:

A focus on provincial centres and the sprawling suburbs of West Auckland were the keys to National's election night success, the party's strategic mastermind says.

Campaign boss Steven Joyce told the Herald the party wanted to make a point of getting candidates out and about in the centres that could go down to the wire.

"The more time you spend in a particular area, the more you learn about it, the more dialogue you have with people.

"It informs your policy."

The party scored a number of upsets around the country, particularly in New Plymouth where Jonathan Young defeated Labour stalwart Harry Duynhoven.

"We always thought New Plymouth had potential, because we had won the party vote in New Plymouth last time, and we thought it had swung further our way."

The party also went close in Christchurch Central, and Palmerston North, traditionally a Labour stronghold.

Mr Joyce also praised the candidates, and the "really positive surprises" that came from election-night battles in West Auckland.

He also singled out new Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye for the party's "better than expected" showing in the electorate.

It is the first time National has won the seat and Ms Kaye's "huge energy was an important factor in the win".

Electorates such as Auckland Central often slid underneath the media's radar, meaning the candidate had to work harder.

The party's advice to Ms Kaye was simple: "Just get out there and meet as many people as you can."

If there were any National strategies that did not go to plan, Mr Joyce was yesterday refusing to talk about them.

"There's always things you can do better. You learn about those, and do them better next time, rather than talk to the media about them."

A review process would be held soon. "The plan had been to run ... a positive and optimistic campaign. I think it was quite helpful to us that the contrast was so strong with what Labour was doing."

Mr Joyce also begins life as an MP, coming into Parliament off the National list.