An increase in exports to China has led to a better-than-expected trade surplus.
Official figures show a surplus of $414 million in February.
Exports rose 8% to $3.9 billion led by milk powder, logs and sheep meat. This was led by a rise in exports to China, up by almost 50%, or about $260 million.
Imports rose 2.5% to $3.5 billion.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the surplus stood at $85 million.
ANZ Bank senior economist Sharon Zollner says the importance of China as an export market has been underlined once again.
She says New Zealand is exporting more and more to China which is a wise strategy, particularly given what is happening with New Zealand's more established trading partners in Europe.
Ms Zollner says there has been a strong showing from dairy products, but the high New Zealand dollar and the effect of drought on milk production is likely to constrain export growth.
On an annual basis, the deficit narrowed to $1.1 billion.