The legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18. Liquor can be sold in stores until 1am, and bars in downtown Auckland can operate 24 hours a day. Stores are not permitted to sell liquor on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and before one PM on Anzac Day. Supermarkets are only allowed to sell wine, beer and cider, for any other types of alcohol you need to purchase from a liquor store.
Wine and spirits, like all other goods in New Zealand, are subject to GST.
There are several breweries in New Zealand producing some well-regarded beers. A six pack of basic, domestic beer generally costs around $12. Specialty and imported beers are more expensive.
New Zealand wines are recognized for their character and quality around the world, especially local Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. New Zealand stores also offer a wide selection of wines from Australia and some from Europe, South Africa, the USA and South America, though it can be hard tracking down your favourite tipple if it’s an unusual variety. Everyday wines tend to range from $10-$20, with prices rising from there. Thanks to deep discounting, a perfectly drinkable wine can be had for as little as $8.
Some specialist wine stores have started to open in Auckland, so if you have a hankering for a Soave or Rioja, don’t despair, it is possible to get hold of a bottle though it may be on the pricey side. For a good bottle of Soave you would be looking at around $50-$60 from a specialist importer such as Kemp Rare Wine Merchant.
A great way to discover New Zealand wines is to head off on one of the many wine tours on offer. This way you will get to visit the various vineyards and sample numerous varieties of wine. This can be a good way of finding a new favourite and will also help you to find your particular preference between the multitude of different versions of the same grape. A quick search on Google will give you a raft of wine tour options to choose from, many covering different areas and wine aspects. One of the most well respected in Auckland is Auckland Wine Trail Tours – http://www.winetrailtours.co.nz.
In addition to some great white wines, New Zealand has also started to produce other fine drinks as well, including Purple Monkey, a vodka made from Kumary, 42 Below Vodka and Gin, Roaring Forties Rum, numerous small producers of kiwi fruit, fejoia and other fruit liqueurs, and of course there’s Limoncello – a popular Italian classic made by almost anyone in NZ with a lemon tree.
There are several wineries in the Auckland region, including:
- Stonyridge Vineyard, Waiheke Island — http://www.stonyridge.co.nz/
- Brick Bay Winery, Warkworth — http://www.brickbay.co.nz/
- Kumeau River Wines, Kumea — http://www.kumeuriver.co.nz/
Specialist Wine Shops
Kemp Rare Wine Merchants in Parnell – http://www.greatlittlevineyards.com/
New Zealand also has several discount wine websites that will deliver quality wine to your door, including:
- Advintage — http://www.advintage.co.nz
- New Zealand Wine Society — http://www.nz-wine-society.co.nz
- Vine Online – http://www.vineonline.co.nz
A litre of a name-brand spirit generally costs upwards of $35, with premium brands going for more. Liquor can only be sold at licensed liquor stores, which also carry wine and beer. There are smaller, independent stores in most neighborhoods, along with large chains including: