Elderly Kiwis struggling to pay off mortgage before retirement

Buying your first home in your 20s might not be the only Kiwi dream that's dying, with new data showing the dream of entering retirement without a mortgage is also slipping away.

According to the last census, more than half of over-65s rely on the $400-a-week pension as their sole source of income.

"I guess it's a problem for all of us if people are arriving at retirement and still needing housing supplements, support for their housing situations or renting," says Commission for Financial Capability community manager Peter Cordtz.

In 2014, 64 percent of New Zealanders were still paying their mortgage. Now it's up to 67 percent.

And mortgages aren't being paid off by retirement age - over-65s owe an average of $232,000.

"If you've got 51 percent living only on national Super, it's quite challenging," says Auckland Grey Power president Anne-Marie Coury.

"I do find those are the people who sometimes get trapped into doing deals, getting someone in to paint the house and the job isn't done properly."

In Waikato district Hamilton, the number of people still paying mortgages has risen, from 66 and 68 percent five years ago to 73 percent.

The Selwyn area has increased dramatically from 57 percent to 73 percent and Tauranga from 60 percent still paying to 68 percent.

High houses prices are a factor as buyers take on more debt than they can manage.

But there are also Baby Boomers using growing equity in their homes to buy either other properties or new cars or boats.

"New Zealanders who are in a position to clear their mortgage by retirement are choosing not to," Mr Cordtz says.

He says people may need to lower their expectations of the Kiwi dream of home ownership.

"[There's] a lot of higher density housing going on in Auckland and other places right now too," he told Newshub. "So maybe the quarter-acre dream in Auckland is a thing of the past, but that doesn't mean home ownership has to be."

Translation: leave Auckland. A huge number are already buying or looking in Northland, keen to ditch the big city in favour of a better lifestyle and weather.