Many Kiwi drinking habits are shifting for the better, according to a new online survey by Seedlip which looked at 500 New Zealanders aged over 18.(1)
The result from the survey found Kiwis are drinking less often, at less volume and in fewer sessions at a potentially harmful level. The results also suggest people are feeling less pressure to drink, with the choice to stay sober more likely to be considered a valid option compared to 10 years ago.

The survey’s findings come as Kiwis look to embark on Dry July and go without alcohol for a month – which may not be as much of a stretch as it was a decade ago.

Fifty-five percent of the survey’s respondents said they are drinking less than they were 10 years ago, while 56% also said non-drinkers are more accepted now. While 16% of people did say they are drinking more than they were 10 years ago (or when they turned 18 if they’re aged under 28 years), 12% of that group said it’s a little more, with just 4% saying they are drinking a lot more in 2019.

The survey found health factors to be a major reason for the drop in drinking, with 45% of respondents saying their health is the number one factor for drinking less, and this desire to be healthy has a particular impact on the drinking habits of 18-34 year olds.

When this younger age group does choose to drink, the reasons appear to be more about relaxation, celebration and increasing enjoyment. Seventy-two percent of the 18-34 demographic drink as a social activity, while 54% drink to celebrate and 44% to relax on the weekends.

The survey found the 35-54 age group uses alcohol more as a reward and relaxation tool, with 50-52% of them drinking as a social activity or to relax after work or on the weekends.

The 55+ age group are generally less inclined to drink to fit in, with 54% drinking to enhance a meal and 55% drinking as a social activity with others. These results are just fractionally higher than 10 years ago.

The stress of modern day living does appear to be having some impact on Kiwis’ drinking habits, with 64% of the overall survey participants saying they drink to relax and cope with the week, compared to 51% of people 10 years ago. Seventeen percent of Kiwis also drink five or more nights a week – and of that number, 31% are aged 55+ with a male skew.

At the same time, younger Kiwis are feeling less pressure to drink in 2019. Just 11% of the survey respondents aged 18-34 say they drink to be part of the crowd, compared to 38% of 18-34 year olds a decade ago. The number of young Kiwis drinking to be more confident in social situations has also experienced a considerable drop, with 21% saying they do this now, as opposed to 41% of 18-34 year olds 10 years ago.

However, the 18-34 demographic does still feel the most harm from drinking, with 60% saying they have spent an entire day recovering from a drinking session. In addition to that, 24% said in the last year they have had images they don’t like of themselves drinking put up on social media.

Claire Turnbull, a NZ Registered Nutritionist says that while Kiwis’ drinking habits have changed with regards to drinking more to cope with stress, it’s encouraging to see Kiwis feeling less pressure socially to drink.

“It’s great to see that people are feeling less pressure to fit in with the crowd when it comes to drinking and are often prioritising their health in this respect,” she says.

“With people keen to drink less for a variety of reasons – be it for their health goals or because they have to drive or simply because they don’t want to, it is great to see more non alcoholic, low sugar options avalible as alternatives.

“And as far as the stress-related drinking goes, people may want to look for other ways for managing that pressure. It’s a great idea to look for something non alcoholic to drink to help create a new healthier habit around drinking, plus find other ways to unwind such as exercise, talking with friends, listen to music or looking at meditation.

Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit boasts zero calories, is sugar-free, sweetener-free and artificial flavour-free is available in New Zealand supermarkets, specialty food stores, gift stores and online at

HOW ARE WE DRINKING NOW? Seedlip Survey Highlights

  • Half of all Kiwis aged over 18 are drinking at least once a week, while one in seven are drinking less than once a year.
  • One in six New Zealanders are drinking five days a week – these drinkers are more likely to be men and aged 55+.
  • There has been a decrease in drinking in general across all age groups, but particularly in 35-54 year olds (when compared with 35-54 year olds a decade ago).
  • Kiwis are also drinking less volume, with significantly fewer standard drinks and fewer occasions at potentially harmful levels.
  • We’ve also seen a decline in the number of drinking sessions that have exceeded five standard drinks – particularly amongst the younger demographic.
  • Two in five people say that the desire to be healthy is having a lot of impact on their drinking – even more so for 18-34 year olds.
  • The change in drink driving limits has also had an impact, with almost one in five saying they now choose not to drink at all if they are driving.
  • Half of Kiwis are looking at non-alcoholic options when they’re out at least half the time – this is especially so for 18-34 year olds and significantly less for 55+ year olds.


(1) The survey of 500 New Zealanders was conducted in May 2019 on behalf of Seedlip, used a representative sample (based on census statistics) by age, gender and location. The survey was conducted by independent research consultant Sarah Woollett and the Research Now/Dynata panel

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