With 99 percent of preliminary results in, National has the bulk of votes, but would need three more seats to form a Government.
With the Māori Party out of Parliament, either Labour or National will likely need Winston Peters to form a Government.
But the NZ First leader said he would not be rushed into a decision on Saturday night.
Mr Peters could choose to work with either party, but the size of National's result would create a strong imperative for him to choose the current ruling party.
Speaking from Russell on Saturday night, Mr Peters said "We don't have all the cards, but we do have the main cards."
He invited the audience - and media - to be patient about who he forms a coalition with.
"If we hear that [question] one more time we'll be advocating a change in our political system," Mr Peters said.
From the Green Party quarters in Auckland, co-leader James Shaw had a message for Mr Peters, expressing his interest in creating a government with Labour and NZ First.
"We do have some things in common," Mr Shaw said, outlining common goals on rail, forestry, net zero carbon and a "campaign against low productivity [and a] low-wage economy."
On current results, National is projected to win 58 seats, needing 61 to form a majority Government. Support partner David Seymour has just claimed victory in Epsom for ACT, which would take National to 59 seats.
Current results have Labour with 45 seats and the Greens with seven.
NZ First would take nine seats.
The Māori Party has lost to Labour in all seven Māori electorates.
Even if NZ First was to work with the Greens and Labour, the left bloc would either just scrape 61 seats or would fall just below.
Outside her home in Point Chevalier, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said she "had hoped for better."
The official results for the general election won't be declared until 7 October, when special votes will be calculated.