New figures show 15 million litres less alcohol was produced or imported in 2012 compared to the year before.
Statistics New Zealand says the 3% drop was due to a fall in the volume of beer available for purchase, down 20 million litres.
However, an increase in the volume of higher-alcohol beverages, such as wine and spirits, meant the amount of pure alcohol available was down by only 0.6% to 33 million litres.
That's more 9.3 litres of pure alcohol for every person aged 15 years and over - or an average of two standard drinks per person per day.
The figures exclude beverages produced by households.