New alcohol laws aiming for a trouble free summer

New alcohol laws aiming for a trouble free summer

Friday, November 22, 2013

Changes to alcohol laws next month will act as a good balance – ensuring people enjoy their summer festivities while reducing the harm caused by excessive drinking, says Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President, Lawrence Yule.

LGNZ has been working closely with local authorities and agencies including Police, Ministry of Justice and the Health Promotion Agency to introduce changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.  The new rules are being introduced to improve New Zealand’s drinking culture. 

Under the new legislation, from 18 December, the maximum hours those licensed to sell and supply alcohol will shorten: Off-licences will be able to sell alcohol between 7am and 11pm, while on-licences (bars and clubs and so forth) will be able to operate from 8am to 4am.  These are maximum trading times and only those licensees currently operating hours greater than the new default hours will be affected.

Mr Yule said it’s important that people know about the new rules in advance so they can plan ahead and is certain that the new trading hours won’t impact negatively on holiday festivities.

“We know there will be some knock-on effects from the new rules.  We’ve been working with local authorities, particularly in key centres, to make sure everyone is organised so that, for example, people leaving town at 4am have the right public transport available wherever possible.”

Mr Yule said the new rules also tighten up a few other areas, particularly in relation to underage drinkers: “The new alcohol laws introduce a range of initiatives that should help curb excessive drinking.  The shorter trading hours are just one part of that.  Some of the rules around who can supply alcohol to young people have changed, as have the rules around use of identification for buying alcohol.”

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 is being introduced in stages.  The changes that come into effect on 18 December mark the final stage.

Some of the new rules:

New national maximum trading hours are:

  • 8:00am – 4:00am for on-licences; and
  • 7:00am – 11:00pm for off-licences.

On-licences, such as bars, will have to provide water, low-alcohol beverages, food and information about safe transport.

Alcohol may only be supplied to minors (persons under the age of 18 years) if the supplier is the parent or guardian of the minor; or they have express consent from the parent or guardian; or the young person is married, in a civil union or living with a de facto partner.  The supplier must also supply the alcohol responsibly (e.g, by supplying food and non-alcoholic drinks and arranging safe transport).  The penalty for failing to do so is a fine of up to $2,000.

It will become an offence to use a fake ID, or someone else’s ID and giving or lending an ID to an underage person knowing they intend to use it to buy alcohol.

New offences apply for irresponsible advertising and promotions (e.g. for promoting excessive drinking or advertising free alcohol.)


General information on the new Act can be found here.

For more information, please contact LGNZ’s Director of Advocacy, Helen Mexted, on 029 924 1221 or email