The average cost of living for New Zealanders surged by 5.2% for the December quarter across all households, reaching the highest level on record.

Stats NZ said its household living costs price indexes were at their highest since it started collecting the data in 2008 across seven out of the 13 household groups measured.

Living costs ranged from 4.8% for beneficiary households, up to 5.4% for middle to high-income groups and higher-spending households.

Consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said the year-on-year jump followed a lengthy period of lower increases in living costs in the higher-spending bracket.

The index also remains below the 5.9% increase in the annual consumers price index (CPI) which measures how inflation affects NZ as a whole.

She said the hike in mortgage interest payments, up 7.8%, were also an important part of the cost of living measure. Higher prices at the petrol pump, and second hand motor vehicle prices, rounded out the list for middle income groups.

Rental price increases helped push household inflation up by 5.3% for Māori households, for whom rent makes up about a fifth of overall expenditure – versus 14% for the average household.

Businesses are also having to absorb increased costs, with two-thirds of businesses reporting higher costs over the December quarter in the NZ Institute of Economic Research's (NZIER) latest quarterly update. 

NZIER reported that cost pressures were seen as particularly intense in the building and retail sector, reflecting the effects of ongoing global supply chain disruptions.

That's the highest level since 2008. Almost two thirds, or 65%, of businesses expect to raise prices in the next quarter.