More support has already been given to desperate families so far these holidays than for the entire Christmas period last year, the Auckland City Mission says.
The Mission gave RNZ open access today to speak to both those getting - and giving support - throughout its Hobson Street headquarters.
Numbers are drawn on the hands of people seeking help with a felt pen.
They are people like Miro, whose house has nine people and one income.
She arrived with her whanau at 4.30am and waited patiently on the street until she was called inside just before midday.
Miro, who was person number 115 today, said times were tough and people like her needed help.
"When you've got grandchildren, great grandchildren and your own children that haven't got a job you have to find some way of getting food on the table.
"Life is really hard... when you've got a one income worker at home and a house full of people it's pretty hard to find food out there or money to buy food.
"Back in my days we didn't have to do this because we had gardens," she said.
Temporary help - food and presents - will be given to Miro and her family.
But pressing on her mind is what happens after Christmas.
Another woman, Tangiora, 24, made it inside the City Mission after waiting on the street since 4am with her 16-month-old daughter.
"Just with rent and bills.. it's just me and her that live on our own and I'm not really left with anything after that and I can't really get her Christmas presents.
"I just don't want to have to rely on going to my mum and dad to ask them for Christmas presents for her," she said.
Another woman, who drove from Tuakau in the Waikato, described how she's normally left with $28 a week to feed her family.
"You exhaust everything with your family members and friends, because of course they're going through Christmas and the same hardships.
"It's like it's non-stop punishment - you try to get yourself out of there but you just get dragged back down again.
She said feeding her family each week was "pretty much a miracle" and done with noodles, bread and help from the vegetable gardens of friends.
Far, far more people
Supervisor and crisis worker Linda Murphy starts each day at 7.30am, and starts with helping to put numbers on the hands of people waiting outside.
"I've been in this job for quite a long time and it seems to have been a real rise of new people coming for the first time.
"It's much much more, far far more."
A woman recently came in with a one-week-old baby, she said.
"You've got to be really careful when you've got a baby that young... but they don't have any other option really."
In a separate room nearby with Christmas carols playing on a small stereo, volunteer Hannah Henderson is helping with presents which are being sorted and put into bags for families.
So far the mission has given presents to 5922 children.
"For the boys we have things like water guns, sports stuff and Lego which has been donated.
"For the girls we have more arts stuff and some cool games as well for the little ones, some Barbies - for the families we have anything from jigsaws, Monopoly and other games," she said.
It was "amazing" to see what people had donated, she said.
But another volunteer, Richard Sandford, said while there were lots of gifts for young children, more were needed for teenagers.
"It's pretty busy and pretty hot in here too, but all in the name of the Christmas spirit," he said.
In other rooms stacked boxes and containers of basic food - like potatoes, carrots and onions - are being sorted and put into bags which can either support families or individuals for four days.
Supervisor Moana Te Wao said there was a high daily demand for food.
"We've got a lot of people waiting outside that have been waiting for hours.
"It's a sad thing but poverty is high at the moment and we're just helping to support everyone," Ms Te Wao said.