A group from the Army, Navy and Air Force received the biggest cheer at the event in Auckland on Saturday.
Their participation came after the formation of a gay, lesbian and transgender support group called Overwatch.
Spokesman Major Brendon Wood took the opportunity to pay tribute to senior leaders in the Defence Force.
“We recognise that as a diverse group, we add value, and we celebrate diversity within the NZDF.”
Major Wood says gay people in the military are simply representative of the wider community.
Airforce squadron leader Stu Pearce, told Radio New Zealand that there had been a serious message behind their participation in the parade despite the carnival atmosphere.
‘It sends a strong message to those men and women within the Defense Force who are perhaps struggling with their identity, they might feel that they’re isolated or alone.’