Total mortgage borrowing hit $4.3 billion last month, up from $2.7 billion in April, according to the latest Reserve Bank data.
The figures reflect a month where most New Zealanders were in lockdown under alert level three, before moving to level two in mid May.
The data underlines a recovery from the depths of stricter lockdown levels, which halted most property market activity.
Borrowing by first home buyers nearly doubled from April to May, jumping from $484 million to $801 million.
Investors borrowed slightly more than FHBs, $895 million in May, up from $561 million in April.
Owner-occupiers continue to dominate the housing market, borrowing $2.58 billion of the $4.3 billion total.
The May data covers the first month since the Reserve Bank scrapped loan-to-value ratio restrictions.
High LVR lending jumped from $272 million in April to $515 million in May.