A new report has found a big increase in the amount of high alcohol content drinks on sale to New Zealanders.

The latest Statistics New Zealand report into Alcohol Available for Consumption found the total amount of alcoholic drinks on sale in New Zealand rose by 0.6 per cent in the year to December 2010.

But the amount of pure alcohol available from those drinks rose 5.5 per cent to 33 million litres in 2010.

That meant 9.6 litres of alcohol was available to every person aged 15 and over during the year.

Government statistician Geoff Bascand said the rising availability of higher alcohol drinks such as spirits and wine was behind that increase.

Supply of spirits with more than 23 per cent alcohol content rose 20 per cent to more than 13 million litres in 2010.

The volume of wine available for consumption increased 7.7 per cent to 103 million litres, with increases in both lower and higher percentage varieties.

That was offset by a decline in the amount of beer consumed - down 2.2 per cent to 299 million litres.

However the decline was seen primarily in beer with an alcohol content of 4.35 per cent or less.

The amount of beer with an alcohol content greater than five per cent available rose 26 per cent to 8.8 million litres.

A Statistics NZ analyst said the report appeared to show a swing towards New Zealanders consuming more high alcohol content drinks.

The increase in the amount of spirits available was particularly large and that contributed strongly to the rising amount of pure alcohol on sale, he said.

The Alcohol Available for Consumption report measures the quantities of alcoholic drinks released to New Zealand's domestic market and its results do not necessarily measure actual consumption across the country.

Information for the report is taken from the New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) and Statistics New Zealand's merchandise trade statistics.