New Zealand's trade balance started the year in the red as the country sold less overseas and bought more.
Statistics New Zealand figures show a seasonally-adjusted trade deficit of $103 million in January, compared with a surplus of $296 million in December.
Exports eased back slightly during January, though they stayed above $4 billion.
Exports of dairy products eased slightly in January but remained 25% above the same month a year ago.
Imports were up nearly 10% compared to the previous month and were 20% higher than the same month in 2011.
Aircraft were behind the surge in imports, with $260 million worth of planes and parts imported during the month, a hundred-fold increase on the same month a year ago.
On an annual basis, the trade surplus shrank to $646 million from $853 million in the year to the December.