Relationship breakdowns, dramatic rent rises and a tough job market are being blamed for pushing more women into homelessness.
Shelters for men in Wellington and Christchurch say women-only shelters are needed to cater for the growing numbers of homeless women.
Mike Leon, the manager of the Wellington Night Shelter, is part of a trust set up to establish a small, women-only hostel that could offer stays of up to a week and help to find a home.
Mr Leon says no national data is collected on homeless women, but it is probably in line with overseas research that suggests about 45% of homeless people are women.
The Christchurch City Mission is opening a women-only shelter in the next couple of months that will be trialled for a year.
Missioner Michael Gorman says numbers of homeless women were already growing before the earthquakes, but are much worse now due to sky-rocketting rents.