The official holiday period has ended, with at least 18 people dying in road accidents.
That compares with 12 deaths over the period last year, and 13 in 2010.
The holiday period began at 4pm on 23 December and ended at 6am on Wednesday.
The holiday toll is a stark contrast to the overall number of road deaths in 2011, when fatalities dropped to fewer than 300 for the first time since 1952.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the toll confirms the need to remain vigilant in efforts to improve safety on the roads.
Mr Brownlee says the Ministry of Transport will be looking closely at all the crashes during the holiday period to get a better understanding of the factors causing the deaths.
National road policing manager Superintendent Paula Rose told Radio New Zealand's Summer Report programme on Wednesday the figures do not necessarily reflect the current situation on the roads.
Ms Rose says it is quick and easy to measure death, as opposed to working out the severity of crashes that occur over the holiday period.