Building consent numbers for new houses, including apartments, increased by 9.4% in December, Statistics New Zealand said.
But not including the volatile apartment consent figures, consents dropped 1%.
Statistics New Zealand’s industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said: "Apartments boosted the increase in new housing consented last month. In December, 232 new apartments were consented, and just over half of these were in Auckland and Wellington."
Since the latest low point in March 2011, a clear trend has emerged showing an increase in new houses, both including and excluding apartments.
Westpac economist Michael Gordon said: “Our view remains that construction will continue to boost economic growth over the next two years, largely but not totally due to post-quake building needs.”
He said non-apartment consents were softer than expected, and had flattened out in Canterbury.
Auckland led the increase in the number of new houses in December 2012, up 140 from a year ago.
Earthquake-related building consents in Canterbury totalled $45 million in December 2012.
In the 2012 year compared with the 2011 year, the number of consents for new houses increased by 3267 (24%) to 16,929. That was the largest number of new houses consented in a calendar year since 2008.