Loneliness, hardship and depression are side effects some pensioners in Rotorua are facing if they rely solely on their superannuation benefit.

Grey Power Rotorua president Russell Hallam said it was an issue in the community with many taking drastic measures to make ends meet.

Those who had to pay market rents and did not own their home were hit the hardest, he said.

''There is a lot of people in that situation where Super NZ is their only income. They live on the basics and cheaper brands of food.''


In the winter he knew of people that spent a lot of their time in their bedrooms to save on power.

''They go to bed at 6 o'clock at night so they don't have to put the heaters on. They don't get up so early in the morning and hardly ever use heating because of the expense.''

Meanwhile others battled loneliness and ''I know of people who may only go to the shop once a week''.

''If they belong to a bowling club they may go down even in the winter. The club I belong to has Friday afternoon indoor bowls and that may be the only time a lot of these people go out.

''It also surprised me that even people living up Pukehangi Rd, which I think is just up the road, will only go to town once a week to save petrol.''

Hallam said ''it's a reality check that both local and central government politicians aren't really seeing.''

Rotorua Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman Glenys Searancke said it was a ''vicious circle''.

''It must be difficult to get out of that cycle . . . particularly if they haven't got their own home. If you are paying commercial rent to a landlord the best you could get at the moment would be $250 for a two bedroom unit and if you take that out of $750 or $760 a fortnight, you haven't got much left.''


Searancke said she knew of one couple that had taken a mortgage out on their house to enable them to have a few dollars.

''They were debt free and I understand it's not unusual now - they are either taking the reverse mortgages, the ones you pay back after you die, or taking a normal mortgage just to give them that discretionary dollar.''

Rotorua pensioner Lewis Thompson said even though the rent on his council flat was reasonable he still struggled.

He had been to Work and Income for several food grants last year and was constantly in overdraft with the bank.

''It's quite stressful worrying about money and I haven't got any savings.''

The 69-year-old said he never got takeaways and although he enjoyed going to the movies that was out of the question.

His neighbour Pauleen Pakoti said she also lived payday to payday on a strict budget.

She tried to make one meal stretch into two making the most out of cheaper cuts of meat including mince and maybe the occasional pork chop.

There was never any money left over but ''I know my limit so I stick with it".

''I'm happy but you have to be and I'm really grateful for this place which is $230 a fortnight.''

Ministry of Social Development Client Service Delivery Group general manager Kay Read said it was there to support people as they aged, to be happy, healthy and to feel valued.

When you're on a fixed income it knew unforeseen expenses can make life incredibly hard, she said.

''We strongly encourage anyone on NZ Super who is struggling to deal with emergency costs or unexpected big bills to get in touch with us so we can work out how we may be able to help them.

''Just like anyone, people on NZ Super may have unexpected housing or health costs. They might be finding it tough to care for children or a partner at home. We are here to help.''

Figures show to September 2017 in Rotorua there were 9970 people on NZ Super compared to 9636 over the same timeframe in 2016.

In December a report by the Financial Services Council said nearly all older New Zealanders would be living on the pension alone after just 10 years.

It had calculated there was on average a $218 after tax weekly gap between what the retired need to live comfortably and what they would actually have.