Heatwave poses serious threat to New Zealand's most vulnerable

The heatwave sweeping the country could be deadly for New Zealand's pets and elderly community. . 

CEO of Age Concern Canterbury, Simon Templeton says he is "very concerned" by the potential dangers of dehydration and overheating in the elderly community. 

A Christchurch woman has already died due to the high temperatures on Wednesday and Mr Templeton says while overheating is always a concern, the current heatwave poses a "real risk". 

Mr Templeton says a 'vicious cycle' can occur where elderly New Zealanders forget to drink due to cognitive issues, or intentionally avoid it because of mobility issues affecting their ability to go to the bathroom. 

He advises elderly Kiwis to avoid going outside in the midday sun and ensure that they are making full use of any air conditioning. 

Mr Templeton also calls on New Zealanders to be neighbourly and check on any elderly residents in their area, saying it's a great opportunity to get to know more people in your community.

Veterinarian Alex Melrose also advises to take care of our furry friends during the sweltering heat, warning pet owners to never leave an animal in a hot car and to not take them on walks during peak temperatures. 

"If they show any signs of really struggling, like looking close to collapse, get them straight to your vet."

Temperatures across the South Island are expected to cross the 40 degree mark this week with many regions on track to experience their hottest January on record.