Cocaine more prevalent in Auckland, meth use highest in Northland according to wastewater tests

Nationwide wastewater testing carried out by police has revealed a clearer picture of drug use in New Zealand.

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Results from the first three months of national wastewater testing show 16kgs of meth is consumed each week. Source: 1 NEWS

The tests, that took place between November 2018 to January 2019, tested for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, MDMA and fentanyl.

Police say that preliminary results show "methamphetamine is the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide, with approximately 16kgs estimated to be consumed on average each week."

Meth use is most prevalent in the Northland region according to the tests, with MDMA appearing more in Canterbury and cocaine in Auckland.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says ongoing testing will lead to an even clearer picture of illicit drug use around the country.

"These early results give us an idea of the potential for this type of data and, as testing continues, it will enhance our understanding of the demand and supply of illicit drugs and the associated harm caused in our communities.

"The long-term results will help police and other agencies make informed decisions around drug treatment services, and initiatives to combat organised crime groups dealing in methamphetamine and other drugs."

Key findings from wastewater testing:

• Average weekly use of the detected drugs has an estimated street value of $9.6 million.


• Methamphetamine remains the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide, with approximately 16kgs consumed on average each week.

• Detected average methamphetamine use translates to an estimated $20 million ($20,606,002) per week in social harm. Annually, this could equate to more than $1billion dollars ($1,071,512,099).

• Methamphetamine use is most prevalent per capita in the Northland Police District, followed by Eastern District (Hawke’s Bay).


• MDMA was the second most commonly detected illicit drug across the country, with an estimated consumption rate of 4kg on average each week.

• MDMA use is most prevalent in Canterbury District, closely followed by Southern District (Southland).


• Cocaine was detected in low quantities, approximately 700g on average each week.

• Cocaine use is significantly more prevalent in the Auckland region (per capita) than anywhere else in the country.