Drinking in New Zealand

Past year drinking

In 2022/23, the prevalence of past-year drinking among New Zealand adults aged 15+ years was 76.3% (equating to 3,205,000 adults) 

There was no significant difference between the prevalence of past-year drinking in 2022/23 and 2021/22. Drinking in the past year was 1.08 times more likely in males than for females.

For more detail on past-year drinking, click here.

Hazardous drinking

The overall prevalence of, and inequities in, hazardous drinking in the total population has remained unchanged over many years. In 2022/23, around one in every six (or 16%) New Zealanders had a hazardous drinking pattern. This represented a significant decrease from the previous year 2021/22, where the prevalence was 18.7%. Males were almost twice as likely (1.99 times as likely) to be hazardous drinkers.

The number of hazardous drinkers in the population equated to 670,000 adults aged 15+ years. This figure is likely to be conservative given that population-based surveys typically produce underestimates of alcohol consumption. The sample size was lower in 2022/23 than previous years.

Around 1 in every 6 New Zealand adults has a hazardous drinking pattern that places them and/or others at risk of harm

Note: ‘Hazardous drinking’ refers to an established alcohol drinking pattern that carries a risk of harming the drinker’s physical or mental health or having harmful social effects on the drinker or others. It is determined by using the World Health Organisation's AUDIT checklist - a score of 8 or more indicates hazardous drinking.

Whilst 18 to 24 year olds maintain the highest prevalence of drinking in the country (total 23.8%; 23.6% for men, 21.3% for women), hazardous drinking patterns remain prevalent throughout older age groups in New Zealand, particularly among men.

Inequities in consumption persist - in 2022/23 Māori were more likely (1.63 times more likely) to be hazardous drinkers than non-Māori, especially for wāhine Māori who reported a hazardous drinking prevalence that was 1.98 times higher than non-Māori women. Māori men reported a hazardous drinking prevalence 1.5 times higher than non-Māori men. 

For more detail on hazardous drinking, click here.

Heavy episodic drinking at least monthly

In 2022/23, 17.5% of adults aged 15+ reported consumption of six more or more drinks on one occasion, at least monthly.

Approximately 1 in every 5 New Zealand adults report monthly consumption of 6+ drinks in one occasion

There is very little overall change in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking at least monthly, over time.

Heavy episodic drinking at least weekly

In 2022/23, 8.6% of New Zealand adults aged 15+ reported consumption of six or more drinks on one occasion, at least weekly.

Around 1 in every 12 New Zealand adults report weekly consumption of 6+ drinks in one occasion

Men are 2.74 times more likely to report this level of consumption than women, and Māori are 1.61 times more likely to report this level of consumption than non-Māori. Asians are 0.34 times less likely to report this level of consumption than non-Asians. There was very little overall change in this measure over time. 

Alcohol use disorders

The He Ara Oranga: Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction report identified that substance use and poor mental health share similar risk factors and determinants - including genetics, poverty, trauma, and stigma - resulting in high levels of co-morbidity between varying types of disorders. It also found that:

  • Over 50% of people using mental health services were estimated to have co-existing substance abuse problems,
  • Around 60% of community-based offenders have an identified alcohol or other drug need, and
  • Around 87% of prisoners have experienced an alcohol or other drug problem within their lifetime.

It's well-known that youth experience disproportionate harms from alcohol and other drugs and are at higher risk of addiction. In Aotearoa New Zealand, half of alcohol abuse and dependence cases have developed by the age of 20. 

However, there is a lack of information on the number of New Zealanders with a diagnosis of alcohol use disorders.

In 2006, it was estimated that just over 4% of the population in their lifetime will experience alcohol addiction and 11% will experience alcohol abuse.

In 2006, it was found that 4.2% of the population reported symptoms of alcohol abuse (2.6%) or dependence (1.3%) in the past year. This equates to over 100,000 New Zealanders.



Every year (since 2011/12), the Ministry of Health carries out the largest survey into the health and well-being of New Zealanders. It is called the New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS).

The survey is designed to yield an annual sample size of approximately 14,000 adults aged 15 years and over. The data is collected at the respondents’ homes, with the interviewer entering responses directly into a laptop computer and/or asking the respondent to complete a section of the interview by themselves using the laptop computer. The 2020/21 survey, taking place during the pandemic, also used a computer-assisted video interviewing (CAVI) approach for a small sample of participants.

The NZHS 2022/23 represents the sample selected for the period July 2022 to July 2023. For some periods in 2022 and 2023, the survey was suspended in parts of New Zealand due to ongoing disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and Cyclone Gabrielle. As a result, the sample size for 2022/23 is smaller than usual and the 95% confidence intervals around some estimates are wider than usual. The methodology report is available here.

In 2022/23, the final weighted response rate was 71% for adults, and 67% for children. The final sample was 6,799 adults aged 15 years and over.

Learn more here



What we drink


Drinking in the past year



Trends in hazardous drinking





Drinking trends in adolescents



Drinking trends in older adults



Covid-19 and NZ drinking