Building consents rose a seasonally adjusted 13% in July compared to the month before.
Statistics New Zealand figures show 1180 consents were issued in July.
When consents for apartments - a volatile sector of the market - are excluded, consents rose 6.3% - the highest level since November last year.
The value of residential building consents rose 0.5% to $391 million.
Goldman Sachs' economist Philip Borkin says the sharp pickup in building consents is more evidence of a slowly improving economy.
However he points out the rise is off very depressed levels.