Increased cost of living inching towards 'crisis' as Kiwis pay hundreds more for basic items this year

The cost of living is increasing at a record rate. We can all feel it in our pockets, but exactly how much extra are Kiwis spending on just the basics, like food, petrol, rent, and mortgages?

The answer is between $4000 and $5000 in the past 12 months.

It's usually the checkout and the petrol pump where you first notice the price rise pain.

On average, it's costing $364 more a year at the checkout but it gets nastier at the pump - an extra $678 a year.

But it's housing costs that are the real wallet killer. Rents went up $2600 for the year, and for a first-home owner, mortgage costs hiked $3952 a year.

So add it all together and the cost of living is racing away. Renters last year shelled out an extra $3763 and first-home owners a massive $5115.

"For a lot of households it looks like they are paying between $70 and $100 more a week just for core staples," says economist Brad Olsen.

Charnae Pyke, who is a solo beneficiary mum of four, knows the pocket pain. For her, every cent counts.

"It leaves nothing at the end of the week and it's been quite severe."

She also helps out. Her Facebook page coordinates donations of school uniforms and stationery packs - but she can't really afford to deliver them.

"I put $20 a week in my car and however far that gets me, that's how it is for the week," Pyke says.

In an average car, $20 will take you 40 kilometres less than it did a year ago.

With petrol costing hundreds of dollars more this year, the price of food is also going up. Meat costs an extra $46 a year and vegetables are up $91.

Part-time cleaner Lulu Low is feeling it. She can't afford to fill her car up and struggles with essentials.

"Just the basic necessities like toilet paper. You're looking at it and going wow, it's gone up another dollar," she says.

But it's housing where costs are hitting hard. 

It might be okay if wages were rising at the same rate as the cost of food, housing, and other necessities, but they didn't last year.

The average rise for a 40-hour week was $50 a week or $2500 a year before tax.

There's some help for people like Low. The minimum wage is rising by 6 percent - the current rate of inflation - but Brad Olsen warns the costs will keep rising.

"It's harder and harder to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. We are getting close to a crisis," he says.

And Low knows that existence all too well.

"It is a struggle and that's real life not just for me but for a lot of cleaners around New Zealand."