- The 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
Within the next two or three days, Prime Minister Bill English will be talking to NZ First leader Winston Peters about forming a fourth term National-led government.
Saturday's election gave National 58 seats, well ahead of Labour's 45.
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Labour's ally, the Greens, won seven seats and the two parties together were still well short of National.
"In the next few days we will begin negotiations with NZ First," English said.
"We intend to form a strong, stable government."
Labour's Jacinda Ardern, after being party leader for just seven weeks, called English to acknowledge National had won the most seats but said it wasn't over yet.
"There are conversations to be had," she said, confirming that she too expected to be talking to Peters.
Ardern could put together a bare 61-seat majority with the Greens and NZ First.
NZ First holds nine seats, which with National's 58 would be a strong majority coalition government in the 120-member parliament.
Peters said he wasn't going to be rushing into any decisions.
"I'm not giving any answers tonight or tomorrow," he said on Saturday night.
The turnout in the 2017 general election, meanwhile, is up on the previous two elections.
The Electoral Commission says on Sunday 78.8 per cent of those eligible to enrol have voted in the 2017 election.
This compares with a 77.9 per cent turnout in 2014.
At the 2011 election, turnout as a percentage of those eligible to enrol was at 69.57 per cent, the lowest recorded at a New Zealand parliamentary election since the adoption of universal suffrage in 1893.
The preliminary results on Saturday - National winning a total of 58 seats, to Labour's 45 - is based on 2,179,668 votes counted on election night, which includes 9866 informal votes, where a voter's intention was not clear.
Special votes still to be counted are estimated to be just over 384,000, or 15 per cent of the total votes. This includes 61,375 votes cast from overseas.
The official election result is expected to be declared on October 7.