To alleviate the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in New Zealand, two strategies, the mandatory fortification of bread with iodised salt (2009) and a government-subsidised iodine supplement for breast-feeding women (2010), were introduced. Few studies have investigated mother and infant iodine status during the first postpartum year; this study aimed to describe iodine status of mothers and infants at 3, 6 and 12 months postpartum (3MPP, 6MPP and 12MPP, respectively). Partitioning of iodine excretion between urine and breast milk of exclusive breast-feeding (EBF) women at 3MPP was determined. In total, eighty-seven mother–infant pairs participated in the study. Maternal and infant spot urinary iodine concentration (UIC) and breast milk iodine concentration (BMIC) were determined. The percentage of women who took iodine-containing supplements decreased from 46 % at 3MPP to 6 % at 12MPP. Maternal median UIC (MUIC) at 3MPP (82 (46, 157) µg/l), 6MPP (85 (43, 134) µg/l) and 12MPP (95 (51, 169) µg/l) were <100 µg/l. The use of iodine-containing supplements increased MUIC and BMIC only at 3MPP. Median BMIC at all time points were below 75 µg/l. Infant MUIC at 3MPP (115 (69, 182) µg/l) and 6MPP (120 (60, 196) µg/l) were below 125 µg/l. Among EBF women at 3MPP, an increased partitioning of iodine into breast milk (highest proportion 60 %) was shown at lower iodine intakes, along with a reduced fractional iodine excretion in urine (lowest proportion 40 %), indicating a protective mechanism for breastfed infants’ iodine status. In conclusion, this cohort of postpartum women was iodine-deficient. Iodine status of their breastfed infants was suboptimal. Lactating women who do not consume iodine-rich foods and those who become pregnant again should take iodine-containing supplements.