Provisional figures show the number of people killed on the roads rose to 306 in 2012.
But it was the second lowest road toll in the last 60 years.
The figure is up from 284 deaths in 2011 but lower than in 2010 and 2009.
Associate Minister of Transport Simon Bridges said there were eight crashes involving more than one fatality compared with only one such crash in 2011.
Motorcyclist deaths also rose from 33 in 2011 to 45.
The number of fatalities in the 15 - 24 year age group was a record low of 65.