The October trade figures highlight just how important China has become as an export market.
The figures showed exports to China more than doubled from October last year to $604 million.
While Australia remains New Zealand's biggest export market, the $794 million of exports to the country in October were down $118 million from October last year.
More imports came from China in October than from any other country, rising more than 9% to $797 million.
Bank of New Zealand economist Craig Ebert says New Zealand still has a $745 million annual trade surplus with China, a big turnaround from the annual $3.9 billion deficit in 2008.
Mr Ebert says the export values to China for the three months to October are up 76% on a year ago.
He says the export figures into China and other parts of Asia can be contrasted with those to Europe which are flat compared to a year ago.
Australia is still a very significant export market for New Zealand, he says, but in relation to other markets, particularly China, iti is starting to lose some of that significance.
He says some of New Zealand's key exports to Australia are not those directly exposed to Australia's economic slowdown.
Mr Ebert says New Zealand's biggest export to Australia is crude oil, followed by gold and wine.
Overall, the trade figures showed a better-than-expected $168 million deficit for October, thanks to the strength in both volumes and prices for dairy exports.
It was the smallest amount for an October month since the mid-1990s.