Record dairy exports helped the country post its first monthly trade surplus in five months in December.
Statistics New Zealand figures show the trade surplus for the month was $338 million, the first since July.
Export earnings rose $491 million (13%) to $4.3 billion in December 2011 compared to the same month the year before, with dairy products reporting the largest increase, offsetting lower meat and timber.
Imports fell $65 million (1.6%) to $4 billion as transport equipment imports declined, while fuel products rose.
The trade balance slipped into deficit in August, after posting seven straight monthly surpluses driven by strong demand for dairy produce.
The surplus for the year to the end of December was $1.11 billion.
ANZ economist senior economist Mark Smith believes the trade surplus has reached its peak and exports are likely to fall due to a weaker global economy and lower commodity prices.