Six people were killed on the roads over the official Christmas/New Year holiday period.
It's the lowest toll since records for holiday periods began in 1956/57.
Last year's holiday road toll was 19. The highest holiday period road toll on record is 1972/73 (37 deaths). Previously, the lowest was 1959/60 (8 deaths).
Superintendent Carey Griffiths, National Manager of Road Policing, says he's very pleased with the result.
"Well done to all drivers who said no to alcohol, wore their seatbelts, stuck to the speed limits and drove attentively. Their decisions impact all of us and have contributed to this result."
Even so, he says six deaths isn't something to celebrate.
"Of course it's fantastic to see the numbers continuing to trend down but as our staff know, that's still six people whose families must be informed of a terrible tragedy."
The preliminary road toll for 2012 was 307, the second lowest in 60 years. The lowest, 284, was recorded in 2011.
Overall, the numbers have trended down since the late 1980s. Superintendent Griffiths says he is confident that trend will continue, even though there are far more vehicles being driven on New Zealand roads than ever before.
He says several agencies have united their efforts under Safer Journeys, the Government's strategy to guide improvements in road safety over 2010–2020.
"Police, Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Transport Agency and other road safety partners are in this together. We'll be reviewing results so far and working on the next action plan to make our roads even safer this year."
The 2013 Safer Journeys Action Plan will consider aspects including roads and roadsides, speeds, drivers and vehicles. "Meshing all these aspects together as part of a safer systems approach is much more powerful than focusing on individual aspects of road safety."
With many people expected to drive home this weekend, he urges every New Zealander to do their part to keep safe. "We can all make sure our friends and wh?nau wear their seatbelts. We can ask people driving to slow down," he says. "Sober driving is critical to keeping safe. Don't tolerate your mates drinking and driving, and never get into a car with a driver who's been drinking.
"These are basics, but they save people's lives."