A record number of Kiwis have upped sticks and moved to Australia prompting criticism of government attempts to stem the flow.
Figures from Statistics New Zealand show that a record 53,900 people left permanently or long term for Australia in the year ending August 2012.
With only 13,900 coming in the opposite direction, a record net loss of 40,000 was reported.
In August, 3400 Kiwis packed their bags for the lucky country.
The Council of Trade Unions and the Greens say that the migration figures are proof that the economy is not creating enough jobs.
"New Zealanders are leaving for Australia in record numbers because the National government is failing to offer the opportunities they need to stay here," said Australian-born Greens co-leader Russel Norman, adding that 166,373 have left since National came to power less than four years ago.
CTU secretary Peter Conway says with 217,000 Kiwis out of work the country's jobless figures would be much worse if it wasn't for the exodus to Australia.
"We are losing high value manufacturing jobs, unemployment is high, and the government seems to have lost interest in initiatives to reduce the loss of people to Australia," he said.
New Zealand had an overall net loss of 4100 in the year to August.
While migration across the Tasman rose, the latest figures offered encouragement for the tourist market with more visitors arriving in New Zealand last month than a year ago in advance of the Rugby World Cup.
Some 175,900 people came to New Zealand for a short-term visit in August - up one per cent from August 2011 when visitor numbers were boosted by 4400 arrivals for the RWC.
On an annual basis, short-term visitors rose five per cent to 2.6 million.
The annual increase was led by 25 per cent gain in the number of Chinese visitors to 14,400. Tourists from Australia rose by three per cent to 2800.