Migration to Australia hit a new high in the year to August, as a net 39,956 people crossed the Tasman from New Zealand, figures released by Statistics New Zealand show.
Most of the 53,904 people who left New Zealand for Australia - a record - and the 13,948 coming the other way, were New Zealand citizens, Stats NZ said.
Figures on overall permanent and long-term migration between New Zealand and the rest of the world showed a net loss of 4,118 in the year to August 2012.
There had been an annual net loss of migrants since the October 2011 year, Stats NZ said.
"Arriving and departing migrants were mostly between 15 and 34 years old in the August 2012 year. In this age group, New Zealand gained 2,500 more migrants than it lost. There was also a net gain of migrants aged 60 and over (1,300). In contrast, there was a net loss of migrants aged under 15 years and aged 35 to 59 years (each 4,000)," Stats NZ said.
Offsetting the huge net loss to Australia were net gains of migrants from most other countries, led by the United Kingdom (5,400), China (5,200), and India (5,100).
In the month of August, seasonally adjusted figures showed a net loss of 300 migrants from New Zealand.
"This is similar to the average net loss of 200 migrants over the last 7 months. The seasonally adjusted net loss to Australia was 3,400 in August 2012. Net outflows to Australia have remained relatively stable since March 2011, averaging 3,300," Stats NZ said.
Turn around as Aus slows?
On Thursday - a day before the migration figures were released - Finance Minister Bill English said that while the New Zealand economy was creating jobs on a net basis, one factor that could be affect headline unemployment figures was that the Australian economy was slowing down.
"There might be less of a safety valve of people going there, maybe some people coming back if they can't get jobs, and that could affect our employment numbers," English told media in Parliament Buildings.
"Australia does seem to be slowing down a bit. That's something of a risk for New Zealand. We always do better when they're doing better. It has been a bit of a safety valve for jobs for people who can't find jobs here," he said.
...or perhaps not...
ASB economist Daniel Smith wasn't so sure on whether the outflow would taper off.
"The August migration data support the view that a steady net outflow will continue, driven by departures to Australia. Given the currently stronger Australian labour market that is likely to continue for the time being," Smith said.
"However, the state of the Australian mining industry and the Canterbury rebuild will be key factors to watch going into 2013," he said.