This page provides information on the minimum drinking age, designations, intoxication, and complaints about noise.
Minimum drinking age
The minimum drinking age in New Zealand is 18. It is an offence to sell or supply liquor in licensed premises to people under this age. There is one exception, which allows the consumption of alcohol by a minor* in certain areas of licensed premises if that person is accompanied by their parent** or legal guardian*** and the parent or legal guardian has bought the liquor for them.
* A minor is a person under the age of 18.
** A parent means natural, adoptive or foster parent.
*** A guardian is a person's guardian within the meaning of the Care of Children Act 2004. It isn't a family friend, other relative, school teacher or other informal relationship.
People of any age may be in this area. Those under 18 accompanied by a parent or legal guardian may consume liquor although they can't buy it. Any liquor consumed by a minor in an undesignated area must be purchased by the parent or legal guardian.
People under 18 may be present only if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. It is the manager's responsibility to establish proof of the relationship - they are entitled to request ID or other proof to establish that the relationship exists. In supervised areas, people aged under 18 accompanied by a parent or legal guardian may consume liquor but they can't buy it. Any liquor consumed by a minor in a supervised area must be purchased by the parent or legal guardian.
People under the age of 18 are not permitted in a restricted area.
Evidence of age documents
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 provides for an 'evidence of age' document to be sought by management of licensed premises to ascertain proof of age. An evidence of age document contains a photograph and information that enables the age of the person to be determined. An evidence of age document is a:
- New Zealand or overseas passport.
- Driver's licence (issued under the Land Transport Act 1998).
- HANZ 18+ card - more information and application forms are available from the Hospitality Association of New Zealand website.
Management is responsible for ensuring they don't supply liquor to minors or allow minors to be on their premises illegally.
Complaints about excessive noise from licensed premises can be lodged with the Council by calling (03) 769 8600 and following the prompts.
Noise control officers investigating the compliant will take action when the noise is considered to 'unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort and convenience of any person'. This judgement is subjective and allows for some flexibility.
In cases of repeated or ongoing noise problems, an Abatement Notice under the Resource Management Act may be issued to management. This will formally require the noise to be reduced to a more reasonable level.
Failure to comply with an Abatement Notice may result in:
- Prosecution under the Act.
- An application for suspension or cancellation of the liquor licence being filed with the Liquor Licensing Authority.
- Objection to the renewal of the liquor licence.
Also see Excessive Noise for information about noise complaints.