Even before winter, the Christchurch emergency department's average daily numbers have increased by 20 more people compared to last winter.
Canterbury Age Concern Chief Executive, Simon Templeton said when older people can't afford the GP, the other answer is to go to the emergency department.
"While the primary care in New Zealand is great, the cost is a big issue."
"A busier emergency department will have a bigger effect on older people than others," said Templeton.
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) said the emergency department will be put to the test over the upcoming winter.
The CDHB is looking at fast tracking some older people to Burwood Hospital when they need admitting.