A growing number of people do not have enough money to meet their everyday needs and many are putting off visiting the doctor because it is too expensive.
And Aucklanders have been revealed as the least likely to embrace cultural diversity and feel the most unsafe in the city centre after dark, according to the results of the latest Quality of Life survey, released today.
But despite the money and safety woes, the survey has found the vast majority of Kiwis enjoy a "good" or "extremely good" quality of life (80 per cent).
The survey of more than 5000 New Zealanders in the country's six largest cities measures the public perception of eight key areas, including crime and safety, health and wellbeing, the environment, public transport and lifestyle.
There has been a large increase in the number of people who say they do not have enough money for their everyday needs, up to 22 per cent from 13 per cent in 2010.
At the same time almost one in five people (18 per cent) said there had been a time in the past year when they wanted to visit a doctor but hadn't and the main reason was because it was too costly. Less than half (41 per cent) of people living in urban areas said they had "more than enough" or "enough" money to meet their everyday needs for things such as accommodation, food, clothing and other necessities.
One third (33 per cent) said they had "just enough" money.
Only 46 per cent of Aucklanders said the city was enhanced by different cultures and lifestyles (compared to 52 per cent nationally) and 14 per cent said it made the city "a worse place to live".
The cities most embracing of different lifestyles and cultures were Wellington (75 per cent), Dunedin (61 per cent) and Christchurch (60 per cent).
Most New Zealanders felt safe in their homes but more than 50 per cent felt unsafe in their city centre at night.
Auckland had the highest number of residents who felt "a bit" or "very" unsafe in the city centre after dark (56 per cent), while 41 per cent felt "a bit" or "very" unsafe in their neighbourhoods.
Most Kiwis said they were happy about life (71 per cent were either "very happy" or "happy"), felt healthy (82 per cent rated their health positively) and were generally satisfied with where they lived (69 per cent).
Christchurch had the greatest number of people (35 per cent) who said their quality of life had decreased "to some extent" or "significantly" in the past year, compared to the national average of only 21 per cent feeling a drop in their quality of life.
"Given everything Christchurch people have been through, and the timing of this survey at the end of a hard winter, it's understandable residents feel their quality of life isn't what it was," Mayor Bob Parker said.
"I believe the tide has now turned ... and there's a more positive mood in the city."
The Quality of Life survey used a random selection of 5151 residents from Auckland, Porirua, Hutt, Wellington City, Christchurch City and Dunedin.
It was funded by the six districts' councils and carried out by research company Nielsen between August 17 and October 16 last year.
Kiwis pro their public transport, but not using it
A majority of New Zealanders use public transport less than once a month or not at all, despite agreeing it is affordable, safe, easy to get to and frequent.
The results of the latest Quality of Life survey, released today, highlight the challenge local governments face in attracting more people to use public transport.
The survey of more than 5000 New Zealanders in urban areas found 63 per cent used public transport less than once a month or not at all in the last year, 12 per cent used it five or more times a week, and 18 per cent used it between twice a month and four times a week.
"Perceptions about the affordability of public transport are still an issue," Wellington City Council Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said.
"Affordability is obviously a key concern to people in these challenging economic times."
Wellington had the highest number of people using public transport, with 23 per cent using it five times or more a week and 16 per cent using it two to four times a week.
Only 39 per cent of Wellingtonians used public transport less than once a month or not at all last year (compared to 63 per cent nationally).
Fewer Aucklanders than the national average agreed public transport was affordable (43 per cent; 46 per cent nationally).
Auckland Mayor Len Brown said there were still "hurdles on the path to becoming the world's most liveable city".
"We must stay focused on challenges such as transport, housing and jobs," he said.