Key facts about drinking in New Zealand

Alcohol use in New Zealand
  • 4 in 5 adults (79%) consumed alcohol in the past year (2017/18 data). Alcohol consumption is highest in men (83%), those identifying as European/Other (85%) or Māori (80%), and people living in the least deprived neighbourhoods (86%).
  • 1 in 4 (25%) past-year drinkers have drunk hazardously in a way that can harm themselves or others.

* Adults who drink have had a drink in the past year
** Hazardous drinkers are those past-year drinkers who scored 8 or more on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)

  • When looking further into hazardous drinking:
    • Men are twice as likely as women to be hazardous drinkers
    • 1 in 2 Māori men who drink and 1 in 3 Māori women who drink are hazardous drinkers
    • 2 in 5 young adults drink hazardously
    • Pasifika and Asian men and women are the least likely to drink alcohol but hazardous drinking is high among Pasifika who do drink

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men did not consume alcohol in the past year (2017/18). Asian (44%) and Pacific (46%) adults are more likely to be non-drinkers, along with 15-17 year-olds and people 75 years and over. One-third of adults living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are non-drinkers.
1.   New Zealand Health Survey 2017/18. Retrieved from!/explore-indicators (Accessed on 22 January 2019).
Availability of alcohol
  • 35 million litres of pure alcohol were available for consumption in 2018 – an average of two standard drinks per person a day.
  • Over the last ten years, pure alcohol available for consumption in New Zealand has decreased slightly for beer (0.5% decrease), but has increased for spirits (35% increase), spirit-based drinks (22% increase), and wine (7% increase).
  • In 2016, New Zealanders consumed 10.7 litres of pure alcohol per person (15+). This is similar to Australia, lower than the United Kingdom, and higher than the United States and Canada (WHO, 2016 data).

Pure alcohol is the term used for ethanol and is measured so that different types of alcoholic beverages with different alcohol content can be compared. For example, a one litre bottle of vodka with an alcohol content of 40% contains 400ml of pure alcohol; a 750ml bottle of 12.5% wine contains 94ml of pure alcohol.
1.Statistics New Zealand (n.d.). Alcohol available for consumption: Year ended December 2018. Retrieved from (Accessed on 27 March 2019).
2.World Health Organization. Total consumption with 95%CI by country (2016). Retrieved from (Accessed on 22 January 2019).
Harms from drinking alcohol

  • In 2007, around 800 deaths of New Zealanders aged 0-79 years were attributable to alcohol, representing 5.4% of all deaths under 80 years old.
    • 43% of all deaths attributed to alcohol are due to injuries, 30% to cancer and 27% to a variety of other chronic diseases
    • Over twice as many deaths are seen in men as women – 23 deaths per 100,000 for men compared to 10 deaths per 100,000 for women.
    • The death rate for Māori is disproportionately higher – 34 deaths per 100,000 for Māori compared to 14 deaths per 100,000 for non-Māori.

  • Alcohol is known to be a factor in 1 in 5 fatal crashes between 2015 and 2017. It is also a factor in 15% of serious injury crashes and 10% of minor injury crashes.
  • 2 in 5 violent interpersonal offences in 2014 are known to involve alcohol with either the offender, the victim or both drinking at the time of the offence. Women (30%) are less likely than men (51%) to be the victim where they and/or the offender had been drinking. Alcohol is also involved in 1 in every 3 family violence incidents in 2018.
1.World Health Organization (n.d.). Alcohol. Retrieved from 22 January 2019); Health Promotion Agency (n.d.). Retrieved from 30 May 2019).
2.Connor, J.,Kydd,R.,Shield,K.,& Rehm, J. (2013). Alcohol-attributable burden of disease and injury in New Zealand: 2004 and 2007. Research report commissioned by the Health Promotion Agency. Wellington: Health Promotion Agency.
3.Ministry of Transport. 2015-17 administrative data.
4.Ministry of Justice (n.d.). New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2014 - Involvement of alcohol in violent interpersonal offences. Retrieved from (Accessed on 22 January 2019); Ministry of Justice (n.d). New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey 2018 - Selected drivers of family violence. Retrieved from  (Accessed 10 July 2019).


Key facts about drinking in New Zealand PDF