New Zealand's current account deficit was $2.6 billion in the September quarter, about a third of a billion dollars more than in the June quarter.
Figures released on Wednesday morning by Statistics New Zealand show it is the largest current account deficit since the December 2008 quarter. It is $345 million more than the June quarter's deficit.
It says the increase in the deficit was mainly due to imports increasing more than exports, meaning that for the first time in five years, New Zealand imported more goods and services than it exported.
Just over half of the $1.06 billion increase in imports was of transport equipment and mechanical machinery, including military helicopters.
Exports rose by $702 million, largely because of higher prices for dairy and forestry products.
The annual deficit widened to $8.8 billion, or 4.1% of economic activity, from $8.2 billion, or 3.9% of economic activity, in the June quarter.