Cruising on luxury liners or holidaying in the sun might be in the plan for many retiring baby boomers but new research shows that won't be the reality for most.

More than 40 per cent of 50 to 70 year olds were found to have little or no retirement savings and almost half face spending cuts to make ends meet in their golden years, research by Colmar Brunton has revealed.

Chris Vaughan, executive director at Colmar Brunton, said while the perception of people born between 1946 and 1964 may be of a wealthy generation who plan to retire young, its survey had found otherwise.

"We often think of baby boomers as all being relatively well off and cruising towards early retirement but that's not the case for many," Vaughan said.

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While half of boomers had an income of up to $50,000 a year 25 per cent made do on a total household income of $50,000.

At the other end of the scale a third had a household income of more than $100,000 and a third had savings or investments of $100,000 or more.

"It's clear there are some baby boomers who are relatively wealthy and asset rich but there are a larger number who are or will be under financial stress in their retirement."

Less than half (46 per cent) said they were well set up for retirement although those aged 65 to 69 were the most prepared with 70 per cent feeling confident.

But Vaughan said that still left 30 per cent already struggling in retirement.

"That's pretty alarming."

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While the majority felt confident about dealing with money and financial matters just 44 per cent had calculated how much money they would need for retirement.

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"It's a concern that the majority don't have much idea how much they will need for retirement.

Just over 40 per cent said they had little or no savings and would rely on New Zealand Superannuation to get by.

A significant proportion (42 per cent) planned to rely on equity from their property to help them through retirement while 58 per cent said they had a range of investments.

That's pretty alarming.

Just under 60 per cent (59 per cent) of those questioned said they would keep working past 65 years old and half aged 65 to 69 were still working.

Aucklanders (43 per cent) were keener on early retirement than Wellingtonians (39 per cent) or Christchurch residents (37 per cent).

The research questioned 1500 people.