Polls have closed in New Zealand’s national elections amid what looks like a close race between the conservative prime minister and his liberal challenger.

Early results suggest incumbent Bill English’s National Party is a little ahead of Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party.

Under New Zealand’s proportional voting system, large parties typically have to form alliances with smaller parties in order to govern.

That means there is a chance there will be no clear winner on election night, and parties may bargain over the coming days or weeks to form a coalition.

Ms Ardern, 37, has enjoyed a remarkable surge in popularity since taking over as opposition leader last month.

Mr English, 55, has highlighted his experience and promised tax cuts.