The first couples of New Zealand and Australia will get to know each other better tonight over dinner in Sydney.

Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford will have dinner with Malcolm Turnbull and wife, Lucy, at their harbourside home at Point Piper in Sydney.

The trip will be Ardern's first formal visit to Australia since becoming Prime Minister in October. She made a brief trip to Sydney last year to uphold the tradition of all new prime ministers visiting Australia at the first opportunity.

Ardern's departure on an Air Force Boeing from New Zealand was delayed for an hour from the original schedule so she and other senior Cabinet ministers could attend the farewell speech in Parliament of former Prime Minister Bill English.


She is taking a delegation of seven ministers including Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Trade Minister David Parker, Science Minister Megan Woods, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi, Small Business Minister Stuart Nash, and Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters flew to Sydney ahead of the others for earlier appointments.

Ardern will receive a ceremonial welcome on Friday at Admiralty House, the residence of Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

After formal talks, she and Turnbull will each address a large business audience at a lunch hosted by the annual Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.

New National Party leader Simon Bridges will address the forum earlier in the day – former leader Bill English had previously accepted an invitation to speak.

Bridges said that while the transtasman relationship was a strong one, it had been "bruised" because of the new Government's repeatedly talking about sending asylum seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea or Nauru.

He called it an "antagonistic" approach.

Australian Prime MInister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy. Photo / File
Australian Prime MInister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy. Photo / File

Ardern said she expected to get an update from Turnbull on the situation.


But she would again raise the issue of deportation of criminals with New Zealand citizenship – some of whom have never been to New Zealand before.

"Bringing someone back to New Zealand who has never stepped foot in this country … leaves us with a very tough job and I will continue to raise that."

She said Australia was well within its rights to deport them.

"It's whether or not this is a policy that is fair or makes sense. There are elements of this policy that from our perspective, don't make sense."

More than 1000 Kiwis have been deported from Australia since 2015 under a law that automatically cancels a person's visa if they have served a year in prison but also allows deportation on character grounds.

Bridges said that because the current New Zealand Government was putting up a "closed sign" to immigrants and foreign investors "I'll be reiterating our commitment to an open economy that promotes trade and investment and backs New Zealanders to succeed on the international stage".