Thousands of Kiwis stop loan repayments as the financial impact of COVID-19 hits

More than 100,000 New Zealanders have stopped repaying loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is giving the Government cause for concern.

Half of those Kiwis are continuing to only pay the interest on their loans, while the other half have put all repayments on hold.

Mortgagee John Stewart has taken up the option to only pay interest on his almost $1 million mortgages during the pandemic.

"It's made it more manageable, obviously times are hard for everyone at this point," he says. 

Stewart says he hardly considered stopping repayments completely because it would create an even bigger bill down the line. 

"The payment at the end of it would be approximately $450 more on my mortgage monthly if I did that for a six-month period."

But more than 50,000 Kiwis have stopped repayments completely on over $18 billion worth of loans, including mortgages. 

While banks are missing out on that money now, they'll clip the ticket later on, as interest accrues. 

Squirrel Mortgages Founder John Bolton says it's a sacrifice many New Zealanders are having to make.

"The additional interest cost, over the fact that you've actually not paid interest, is only a couple of thousand bucks, and if you've deferred it, then the total cost is $11,000 or $12,000. It's not the end of the world."

But it could be an issue if six months down the track, people can't afford to start repaying their mortgage. 

The country's biggest bank, ANZ, is warning that will happen and Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Government is worried. 

"Oh, I'm very concerned for all New Zealanders that they have the resources to pay their mortgages… 

"This is a situation where there is going to be a big impact on the NZ economy."

The Government's been given no advice on how big that impact will be - but the banks will be the ones who wear it. 

Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand says they should be able to survive the impact.

"We started running into this crisis with banks well capitalised ... so they're in a good position to ride this through."

But not all homeowners will be in a  position to stump up what they owe.