Half of Kiwis are now driving less often to save on fuel costs, while 44 per cent are socialising less and one-in-five are even skipping meals as the rising cost of living starts to bite.
Rural residents are those most likely to be concerned by rising fuel costs, while families with children under-18 are more likely to be skipping meals.
That's according to a new survey of 1200 New Zealanders by pollster Curia Market Research.
Leading family, housing and elderly support groups say that although rising costs are hitting all Kiwis, those renting and on lower incomes are suffering most.
Hurimoana Dennis, the chair of Auckland's Te Puea Memorial Marae - which provides emergency housing support and food grants to families - said there had been a noticeable increase this year in people seeking help.
"We're seeing a lot of people who normally wouldn't need a benefit coming to us looking for support," he said.
He said his team had been helping families into emergency and rental accommodation and dealing with the effects of Auckland's housing crisis since 2016.
However, this year housing costs had been compounded by job losses and economic fallout from the Covid pandemic together with sharp increases in fuel and food prices.
Inflation hit 7.3 per cent in the June quarter, according to Stats NZ's latest Consumer Price Index, released this week, the highest increase since 1990.
The increase was largely driven by rising rents and by construction costs for new homes and commercial buildings, Stats NZ said.
However, petrol prices have also increased 32 per cent in the year to the June 2022 quarter, the largest annual increase since the June 1985 quarter.
Economists from ANZ said inflation was most likely going to keep rising as the global economy battled with the effects of sanctions and uncertainty caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Kiwis polled by Curia also expected prices to jump.
Forty-eight per cent expected fuel and motoring costs to jump significantly in the next six months, while 39 per cent also expected food prices to increase a lot.
About a quarter of respondents thought mortgage repayments and heating and power bills would jump a lot.
According to the poll, families with children under-18 are in nearly all cases being forced to make bigger cuts to their costs than their childless counterparts or those who have already-grown children.
Forty-seven per cent of parents with kids under-18 told the poll they are not turning on heaters compared to 35 per cent of respondents without young children.
Parents of young children were also more likely to be socialising less, looking for cheaper supermarkets, browsing price comparison websites, cancelling Netflix and other services and working from home more often.
Alarmingly 27 per cent of parents said they were skipping meals, while a further 14 per cent were considering skipping meals.
One in five are also borrowing more money.
Regionally, Aucklanders were the most likely to be skipping meals to cope with rising costs.
Wellingtonians, however, appear to be feeling inflation's pinch the most.
They are most likely to have left the heater switched off and be socialising and driving less, while simultaneously looking for cheaper supermarkets and shops and borrowing more money.
Lobby group Family First, which commissioned the survey that spoke with respondents between July 3 and 10, called for the Government to implement a price freeze on fuel and food to combat the rising costs.
"Several European countries have capped prices for basic food groups, such as sugar, flour, sunflower oil, milk and some meats, as well as an interest rate freeze on mortgages and utilities," it said.
Jan Pentecost, national president of Grey Power, which supports older Kiwis, said a recent survey of members showed some are "doing it really hard".
"It is a certain group of people who don't own their own houses and are renting and as things tighten up they find it harder and harder," she said.
"Some are having to choose seriously what they can do without."
She said older Kiwis tended to be stoic and slow to speak up when they are in trouble, but she hoped the Government could look closely at increasing accommodation benefits for elderly people on low incomes.
Stephen Hart, chief executive of CORT Community Housing, a non-profit group building and providing housing to those on low incomes, said rising costs always hit the poorest hardest.
While Auckland's rent increases had slowed in recent months, housing pressures had been increasing for years, he said.
When combined with rising food and petrol costs it could mean more Aucklanders will fall out of the private rental market and seeking public housing, putting further pressure on already long wait lists, he said.
An article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand this week chatted with six single mums and showed how tough the struggles can be.
One woman told the researchers that "on a bad week, sometimes I won't eat at all just so there's enough for the kids" .
Another said that if it wasn't for food parcels, the children "wouldn't have eaten for about a week".