Get Prepared

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The best option is to delay drinking among young people for as long as possible.

New Zealand low-risk drinking guidelines recommend that young people delay alcohol consumption for as long as possible, particularly those under the age of 15 years. It is further recommended that if drinking has initiated, it should occur under guidance, and at low levels and frequency.

There is a bit of confusion out there about whether parents should provide alcohol to their young people and if so, when.

Providing just a little sip to children in order to “teach them how to drink” isn’t advised. The earlier a young person starts drinking the more likely they are to experience alcohol-related harm. It may also have the effect of normalising alcohol consumption. It’s important that young people learn that there are valid options and choices for them not to drink, rather than feeling like they have to drink in order to fit in or be “normal”.

Our alcohol laws state that:

To buy alcohol:

  • You must be 18 years or over. This is called the Minimum Legal Purchase AgeNew Zealand does not have a legal age for drinking, unlike the United States.
  • If a young person under the age of 18 was to buy alcohol, they could face a fine of up to $2000.

To supply alcohol:

  • By law, only parents or legal guardians can supply alcohol to those under 18 years of age.

Others are permitted to supply alcohol to young people ONLY if they have the express consent of the young person’s parent/guardian. Visit Alcohol supplied by others for more information.

If parents choose to supply alcohol to a young person, they must do it in a responsible manner. Read the law here.

When considering whether alcohol was supplied in a responsible manner, the court may take into account the following:

  1. the steps taken by the supplier to supervise the consumption of alcohol:
  2. whether food was provided with the alcohol:
  3. whether a choice of low-alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages, or both, was offered:
  4. the nature of the occasion:
  5. any arrangements for, or provision of, safe transport:
  6. the time period over which the alcohol was supplied:
  7. the strength and volume of the alcohol supplied:
  8. the age of the minor:
  9. any other matter it thinks relevant in the particular circumstances.

Government advice is that if a young person does consume alcohol - it should NEVER exceed the adult limits (i.e. <4 standard drinks in an occasion for females, <5 standard drinks for males).

At a licensed premises, alcohol can only be supplied by a parent or guardian in places with a supervised designation (e.g. restaurants, family lounge bars). Some licensed premises are designated as restricted areas - young people CANNOT enter these. 

Read this FAQ relating to parental supply of alcohol in New Zealand prepared by the Health Promotion Agency