Jacinda Ardern and Malcolm Turnbull's first sit down is expected to be courteous but will cover some thorny territory.
The New Zealand prime minister is visiting Sydney on Sunday for bilateral talks ahead of the upcoming APEC and East Asia Summits in Vietnam and the Philippines.
The pair earlier this month had their first phone conversation, with Ms Ardern describing it 'incredibly warm and friendly', dispelling fears of a potential diplomatic rift with Australia.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in August suggested she would find it hard to trust a Labour government in Wellington after accusing the party of interfering in Australian former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce's citizenship saga.
Although both sides insist that episode has been smoothed over, Ms Ardern has flagged she'll raise some other uncomfortable issues.
She's unimpressed with Australia's handling of an unfolding humanitarian crisis on Manus Island with 600 refugees barricaded in a mothballed detention centre, too scared to leave.
'I think anyone would look at a situation like that and see the human face,' Ms Ardern said on Thursday.
Ms Ardern reiterated the government's willingness to accept 150 refugees held in Australia's offshore detention centres.
It has been rejected, more than once, by the Australian government on the grounds that it would give refugees a backdoor into Australia.
Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani said Manus blockaders were pinning their hopes on New Zealand.
'NZ is our best chance, standing by offer to take refugees. Australia blocking but has no right to say no. You can't keep political hostages,' he said.
But Mr Turnbull has previously stated it would be a marketing opportunity for people smugglers.
Meanwhile, Ms Ardern will go in to bat for New Zealand university students who may face a fee hike if the Turnbull government passes its higher education reforms, which are currently stalled in the Senate.
New Zealand students will be denied commonwealth subsides and will have to pay full international student fees from next year.
During the election campaign, Ms Ardern warned there could be retaliation if the measure goes ahead.
The pair is likely to discuss efforts to revive the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which is still on life support after America withdrew.
The remaining 11 countries are pushing ahead but Ms Ardern is keen to dump the controversial investor-state dispute settlement clauses that allow foreign investors to sue governments. That move is not supported by Japan.
Other topics on the agenda include the fate of 178 New Zealanders in limbo in Australian immigration detention centres after their visas were cancelled because of convictions.