For Waiheke Island's Jasmine Sinden, 27, and Vince Carr, 32, their pets are like children.
The engaged couple are part of a growing group of people who have put off having kids due to the cost of living.
Their greyhound Opie has a bed in every room of their home, a chest of toys, handmade collars and matching bandanas while cats Yogi and Tuna compete for affection.
Sinden, owner of pet product business Pet Connect, said she wanted a solid foundation beneath her before bringing another life into the world.
"I imagined I'd be married with kids and own a house by now."
Sinden said she set 28 as the age to start trying for kids, but it wouldn't be until her 30s before she'd be ready to think about trying.
The goalpost keeps moving with the house prices, she said.
"I've chosen to put off having kids and put all my love into my fur babies so I can chase a career and my dreams. Having pets means you get love and warmth from your animals, but you can have that sort of lifestyle as well."
The couple, who rent a home in Oneroa for $500 a week, were shocked at house prices when they returned from a stint working in Australia a year ago.
"We focused on our careers so we could afford to buy a home on Waiheke where both our families and our friends are, but in the five years we were away house prices skyrocketed."
Without their own home, the couple agreed three fur babies were enough to look after.
It cost $5000 to bring back their three pets they adopted in Australia, but it was "a no-brainer - a pet is for life".
The cost of caring for their pets, let alone a child, is "enormous".
There's good quality pet food to buy at about $30 per week and a monthly pet insurance payment of $100.
But it's like a first step to having a child, Sinden said.
"It's a good way to test how you are as a couple. With our fur babies, it's seeing that we can get up in the morning and feed them and walk Opie every day."
Sinden said several of her friends were in similar situations, opting for pets over kids and delaying parenthood.
Millennials are her target market in her business; about 80 per cent of her customers are under 34.
Karl Arns, a 24-year-old authorised financial adviser and OMF derivatives broker, said it wouldn't be surprising to hear millennials were waiting slightly longer to have children.
"It probably does come down to living costs ultimately. Even on the average income it's probably hard to make ends meet without adding further dependence to that."
Arns said adding the aspirations of owning a home made the prospect of having enough funds to raise a child considerably more difficult.
"The cost of housing and also rent has gone absolutely ballistic ... It's the housing that chews up most of your income."
Trying to raise a child without sufficient funds was a "tough call", and it was smart to wait until you could afford to, Arns added.
Director of Kin Marketing Alice McKinley said "pet parenting" was rife among millennials in New Zealand.
She said young Kiwis were spending increasing amounts on their pets, which suggested animals were filling the void once occupied by children.
"Because we're having kids a lot later in our 30s often due to financial pressures, pets just make such great companions, they're easy to have around and they're loyal."
McKinley said people were happy to spend $50 or so a month on their pets, because generally that was affordable.