The rapid growth of very elderly populations requires accurate population estimates up to the highest ages. However, it is recognised that estimates derived from census counts are often unreliable. Methods that make use of death data have not previously been evaluated for Australia and New Zealand. The aim was to evaluate a number of nearly-extinct cohort methods for producing very elderly population estimates by age and sex for Australia and New Zealand. The accuracy of official estimates was also assessed. Variants of three nearly-extinct cohort methods, the Survivor Ratio method, the Das Gupta method and a new method explicitly allowing for falling mortality over time, were evaluated by retrospective application over the period 1976-1996. Estimates by sex and single years of age were compared against numbers derived from the extinct cohort method. Errors were measured by the Weighted Mean Absolute Percentage Error. It is confirmed that for Australian females the Survivor Ratio method constrained to official estimates for ages 90+ performed well. However, for Australian males and both sexes in New Zealand, more accurate estimates were obtained by constraining the Survivor Ratio method to official estimates for ages 85+. Official estimates in Australia proved reasonably accurate for ages 90+ but at 100+ they varied significantly in accuracy from year to year. Estimates produced by Statistics New Zealand in aggregate for ages 90+ proved very accurate. We recommend the use of the Survivor Ratio method constrained to official estimates for ages 85+ to create very elderly population estimates for Australia and New Zealand. © 2015 Terblanche, Wilson.