Cost of living: New Zealand consumer inflation continues downward trajectory to 6 percent - Statistics NZ

New Zealand's annual consumer inflation has eased for a second consecutive quarter, providing some relief for Kiwis feeling the cost of living pinch.

Statistics NZ said the consumer price index (CPI) was 6 percent in the 12 months to June, falling 0.7 percentage points from March's data.

Wednesday's figure is the lowest inflation has been since the end of 2021.

"Prices are still increasing at rates not seen since the 1990s but are rising at a lower rate than the last few quarters," said Nicola Growden, Stats NZ's consumer prices senior manager.

Prices were rising fastest in food, housing and household utilities, Stats NZ said.

Ahead of the election this year, the incumbent Labour Government and Opposition have both made pledges to ease inflation and the cost of living squeeze.

Wednesday's inflation update was the last before October's election.

The Reserve Bank (RBNZ) already saw signs of inflation abating, allowing it to keep the official cash rate unchanged at its monetary policy meeting earlier this month.

However, food inflation remained stubbornly high. Stats NZ said vegetable prices alone increased 23.3 percent in the year to June.

"Today's CPI release will have the RBNZ on alert," ASB senior economist Kim Mundy said in a note. 

Non-tradable inflation, a key measure of domestic consumer prices, remained a "high and sticky" 6.6 percent year-on-year, Mundy noted.

Overall annual inflation was now running below the 6.5 percent OECD average. However, it's still double the RBNZ's target range.

The 6 percent year-on-year figure was in line with analysts' projections.

Quarter-on-quarter, the CPI was 1.1 percent - down 0.1 percent from March.

Infometrics chief executive Brad Olsen said while food and energy price rises were at four decade and 10-year highs respectives, petrol was down 15 percent - the biggest annual decrease in a decade.

Excluding food, annual consumer prices rose 4.6 percent compared with a 5.6 percent rise in the previous quarter.

Housing and household utilities rose 6 percent annually in June. Contributing to this was a 7.8 percent surge in home ownership.

New Zealand's downside risks of inflation, however, were still growing in the medium-term, Mundy believed.

"Slowing domestic demand and tentative signs of some loosening in the labour market suggest that, in time, inflation will fall back to the RBNZ’s 1-3 percent inflation target. But time is of the essence given that inflation has already been above the RBNZ's target for two years."