Key Points:

The number of New Zealanders moving to Australia set a record last month, and the flow of people moving here from other countries continued to slow.

Statistics New Zealand figures issued yesterday show 47,800 Kiwis crossed the Ditch to live in the year to October.

In the same period, about 13,200 moved from Australia to here - the same number as in the year to September. About two-thirds of them were New Zealanders returning home.

That created a net outflow of 34,600 permanent and long-term migrants to Australia for the year, breaking September's record of 33,900.

Until last month, September had the highest annual outflow to Australia since records started in 1978.

Total immigration fell last month to its lowest level in seven years.

New Zealand gained 4300 migrants net in the year to October, 3200 fewer than in the previous 12 months.

Tourist numbers for the month were also down, dropping 3 per cent from last October to 173,900 as the economic downturn deterred visitors from China, the United States, Korea and Japan.

Luring people to stay in New Zealand was a policy promise by the National Party.

Before the election, National leader John Key described accelerating losses to Australia as a "vote of no confidence" in the Labour-led Government.

National's agreement with the Act Party included a commitment to set up an advisory group to come up with ways New Zealand can close the income gap with Australia by 2025.

The last time long-term departures peaked as sharply as they did last month was in 1989, when New Zealand lost 33,700 more residents to Australia than it gained.

In the year to December 1979, New Zealand lost 33,400 more residents to Australia than it gained.

Statistics NZ said the population was about a third bigger last year than it was in 1979.

But most of the population growth since then had occurred above the age of 40, while most migration occurred below that age.