People bold enough to abstain from alcohol for a whole month can help ease the suffering of Northland cancer patients as part of the second annual Dry July campaign.
Last year, more than 2100 people signed-up for the inaugural New Zealand Dry July fundraiser, collecting more than $550,000 for the Northern Regional Cancer and Blood Service at Auckland City Hospital, the main treatment centre for cancer patients in the upper North Island.
This year, Dry July is also raising funds for cancer centres in Christchurch and Wellington.
Donations last year saw the installation of new televisions, a major garden renovation and 30 new chemotherapy chairs.
Northland District Health Board spokeswoman Liz Inch said the DHB backed the campaign in support of Northland cancer patients.
"We support it up here in terms of helping our people who travel to Auckland for their treatment.
"This year we've registered Project Promise as a potential project to benefit from the fundraising."
The project aimed to raise $3 million to build a cancer centre in Northland, Ms Inch said.
Health Promotion Agency (HPA) policy, research and advice general manager Dr Andrew Hearn said initiatives such as Dry July, where participants gave up alcohol for a set period, allowed individuals to reassess their relationship with alcohol.
"That's a good thing. It is also quite a novel way to raise funds for worthy causes."
The HPA - which has taken over the former Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) - earlier this month launched its "yeah nah" campaign, encouraging people to curtail their binge drinking.
Dry July originated in Australia in 2008 and has raised over $11 million for cancer patients to date.
Founder Phil Grove said the first weekend was often the hardest, but once that was over he reckons "it's pretty much plain sailing".
"You just realise how much more time you'll have and how much clearer your head will be on Saturday and Sunday mornings."
Those adverse to finding sponsors could donate the amount they would have spent on alcohol during July to their own campaign.
Meanwhile, Dry July participants who feel the need to wet their whistle can take a day off by purchasing a "Golden Ticket", allowing a 24-hour leave pass.
Registrations and donations can be made on the Dry July website - www.dryjuly.co.nz.
How to get through the dry spell:
Read, watch television or listen to music
Spend your time at parties talking instead of drinking
Play games such as darts, pool, cards
Start a new hobby, go to that car maintenance class you are always talking about
Learn a new musical instrument
Try non-alcoholic beverages. Mocktail anyone?