National has lost two seats on special votes while Labour and the Greens have each picked up one, but Prime Minister Bill English is still confident he can negotiate a fourth term for National.
The final results, announced on Saturday, make it easier for Labour and the Greens to form a coalition government with NZ First and they're now more optimistic about their chances.
Final results give National 56 seats, Labour 46, NZ First nine and the Greens eight in a 120-seat parliament. There was no change for the ACT Party, which holds one seat.
Mr English said National had clearly finished 10 seats ahead of Labour and also ahead of a Labour/Greens alliance.
He said he was looking forward to negotiating with NZ First leader Winston Peters and his party.
"Voters had a clear choice at the election between the two major parties that had a realistic prospect of leading the next government," he said.
"They signalled very clearly that they wanted National to perform that role and we will now get on with the job of trying to give effect to their wishes."
Labour and the Greens see the final result as giving them a stronger mandate to change the government.
"Today's results lift Labour's final vote to 37 per cent and the left block of seats to 54 - the majority of people voted for a change to the status quo," Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said.
"This reinforces the mandate for negotiations to form a stable, durable and progressive Labour-led government, a government I would be proud to lead."
Green Party leader James Shaw echoed her words.
"The results released today push us closer towards the change of government that so many New Zealanders want," he said.
"With the Green Party, Labour and New Zealand First combined, there is now a strong mandate for change across our parliament."
NZ First lost some of its party vote support on specials but not enough to change the nine seats it won on election night.
National is losing its two lowest-ranked MPs, Maureen Pugh and Nicola Willis.
The Greens have gained human rights lawyer Golriz Ghahraman, a Syrian refugee.
Labour's new MP is Angie Warren-Clark.
The final results show 446,000 special votes were cast, 17 per cent of the total and more than had been previously estimated.