A sharp rise in fuel imports amid record oil prices pushed the annual trade deficit in 2018 to its widest gap in 11 years.
It hit $5.9 billion - the highest since October 2007.
Stats NZ said annual fuel imports reached a new high of $7.7b up nearly half on the year before.
The lower New Zealand dollar also increased the imports bill.
On the exports side, the value for the year rose 7 percent to more than $57b, led by increases in meat and logs exports.