Most New Zealanders in debt have much more equity in their property than what they owe on their mortgage.
New figures released by Statistics New Zealand show that, on average, New Zealanders hold 29 cents of debt for every dollar of real estate assets.
The department found that in the year to the end of 2015 real estate accounted for 87 percent of total individual debt. The average debt was $79,000, while those aged 25 to 44 had the highest average debt of $109,000.
Half of all New Zealanders aged over 15 had a debt, and while people reduced debt as they got older, the analysis also revealed some older people still owed money on real estate as they entered retirement age.
The analysis was based on figures included in the department's report on household net worth, which was released in June.
Because the analysis was new the figures could not be compared with previous statistics on debt, it said.
But according to the Reserve Bank, household debt has grown significantly as a proportion of annual household income.
Debt is now the equivalent of 165 percent of disposable income compared with just 56 percent in 1991.