Global Dairy Trade auction prices were steady on Tuesday night, consolidating the big gains in March.
The key whole milk powder price is now 44 per cent higher than at the same time last year.
Analysts remain confident that prices will hold or, at worst, ease only moderately heading into the new season.
Tuesday night's result was led by a 17.6pc surge in butter milk powder prices.
Cheddar was up 2.2pc, butter 2pc, anhydrous milk fat 0.8pc and skim milk power 0.6pc.
Whole milk powder was steady, while lactose was down 6.5pc.
Westpac NZ senior agri economist Nathan Penny said this result cemented the big price gains in March - with WMP up 21pc this year.
"The result beat expectations," he said.
"The futures market was pointing to a WMP fall of around 5pc immediately prior to the auction, while last week, we had pencilled in a circa 4pc fall."
Mr Penny said the bank was sticking with its NZ milk price forecasts.
It saw some potential upside to those prices, based on the recent price surge and the fall in the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar in the past few weeks.
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ASB economist Nathaniel Keall the auction was another strong result, given the lofty highs prices had already reached.
Longer-date contracts covering the third quarter were still trading at a high level.
"It's a sign that prices have a bit of momentum into the next season," he said.
"Recent price gains have been led by strong demand from China, but this auction saw other regions return to the party.
"With stockpiles not keeping up with rising consumption, and shipping fears continuing to weigh, the 'North Asia' region (a proxy for China) has dominated recent auctions, driving April's price gains.
"This auction saw Chinese buyers take their foot off the accelerator, but other regions (particularly South East Asia and Oceania) stepped into the breach, keeping prices supported.
"The auction suggests aggressive Chinese purchasing is likely to ease further, at least in the near term."
Mr Keall said the flat future contract pricing and other regions re-entering the market meant there was unlikely to be a sharp correction in prices.
"But we see prices easing further over the next auctions," he said.
"Still, strong post-pandemic global demand and softer Northern Hemisphere production should keep prices from falling too far."
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