In the first four months of same-sex couples having the legal right to marry in New Zealand, almost 5% of marriages are now between gay couples.

The figure took some by surprise, and indicated that same-sex marriage may be far more popular than civil unions.

In the seven years civil unions were available, those between couples of the same sex made up only 1.1% of all marriages and civil unions.

Some have said that it may simply be a temporary surge in marriages which has spiked the figures, however, as there was likely a rush of gay couples marrying after same-sex marriage became legal back on 19 August.

The figures, provided by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery, also showed that 131 foreign same-sex couples also married in the country between 19 August and 19 December 2014.

Out of these couples, 88 were from Australia.

“We expect to continue to see a number of overseas same-sex couples choosing New Zealand for their weddings, particularly given recent Australian court decisions,” Mr Montgomery said.

Same-sex couples made up 6.9% of marriages, and 4.7% of marriages between same-sex New Zealand couples.

Australia’s High Court in December overturned legislation allowing same-sex marriages in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

The ACT Parliament passed a bill in October making the territory the first part of Australia to legalise equal marriage.

But the Federal Government challenged the decision, saying it was inconsistent with federal laws.

Efforts to legalise the measure failed in the Australian Parliament back in 2012.

Gay rights campaigners in Australia praised New Zealand after it became the 13th country to legalise equal marriage.

As the Parliament of New Zealand passed a bill to allow equal marriage in the country in August, those in attendance of the reading broke into song, once it was announced that it had passed.