John Key has won support over his responses to Christchurch's earthquake disaster and a deadly mine blast [Reuters]

Results coming in from New Zealand's general election show the ruling National Party has won a second term

Polls closed at 19:00 local time (06:00 GMT), and early exit polls suggested Prime Minister John Key's National Party is teetering on the edge of having enough votes to govern alone.

With votes being counted, Prime Minister John Key's National Party is expected to win between 60 and 62 seats out of a total of 121.

Observers say voters have warmed to Key over his handling of both the Christchurch earthquakes and the deadly blast at the Pike River mine in November 2010.

The All Blacks' recent victory on home soil in the Rugby World Cup final has also created a feel good factor in the rugby-mad nation which has played in his favour, they believe.

Economic issues

Economic issues have dominated the campaign, with Key promising to build on policies of the past three years with an emphasis on sparking economic growth by cutting debt, curbing spending, selling state assets and returning to a budget surplus by 2014/15.

Queues were reported at some suburban booths in major cities as fine weather brought out voters.

Key cast his ballot at a school near his Auckland home and said he was taking nothing for granted despite the party's commanding poll lead.

"You feel a combination of excitement and a little bit of nervousness and anticipation," Key told reporters.

Goff held on to hopes that the party would stage a late recovery, saying it was "all up to the voters".

Key may need to look to the Maori Party, which represents New Zealand's indigenous Maori people who make up 15 per cent of the population, as a possible coalition ally if needed after the party said it could repeat its support in the current parliament for the National-led government.

Source: Agencies