NZ PM Hipkins likely to visit Australia

Chris Hipkins is likely to make Australia his first overseas destination as New Zealand Prime Minister.

Speaking in Auckland on day two of his prime ministership, Mr Hipkins offered well-wishes to Australians on their national day.

"Australians are our great mates," he said.

"They are one of our closest partners in the world. They are certainly our closest neighbour.

"I'm looking forward to getting over there I hope soon to continue to strengthen the relationship between New Zealand and Australia."

In a nod to the trans-Tasman rivalry, Mr Hipkins added the friendship "doesn't mean we can't give each other a bit of a hard time".

When Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was elected in May, then New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern visited within a fortnight to commence their working relationship with an in-person meeting.

Ms Ardern's departure means new leader-to-leader bonds will need to be forged.

However, Mr Hipkins and Albanese - both centre-left leaders - already share a friendship that pre-dates their rise to national leadership.

Mr Albanese was the only world leader that Ms Ardern told that she would be standing down prior to her bombshell announcement last week.

Showing the depth of the trans-Tasman bond, Mr Albanese was quick to get on the phone to Mr Hipkins following his ascension to the Labour leadership, the pair sharing a "very warm" conversation on Sunday.

The two leaders are also due to meet later this year as part of the annual Australia New Zealand leaders dialogue, scheduled to be in New Zealand as part of a regular rotation.

Mr Hipkins ducked a question on the future of Australia Day, saying it was a matter for Australians to debate.