National Wastewater Testing Programme - Quarter 3 2020

National Wastewater Testing Programme - Quarter 3 2020

Date Published: 
April 2021

Results are now available for the third quarter 2020 (Q3 2020) of nationwide wastewater testing, which covers around 75% of New Zealand’s population.

The drugs that have been tested for are methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, MDMA and fentanyl.

Key findings: July – September 2020 (Q3 2020)

  • Average weekly use of the drugs detected in Q3 2020 had an estimated street value of $8.0 million.
  • The average consumption of all drugs tested for during Q3 2020 was higher than when compared with Q2 2020. This is likely due to changes in supply and demand behaviour as New Zealand moved out of COVID-19 restrictions.


  • Methamphetamine use increased during Q3 2020 to a weekly average of 12.6 kilograms. This is an increase of 27 percent from the average total weekly load in Q2 2020 (9.9 kg).
  • Northland, Eastern and Bay of Plenty Districts again had the highest methamphetamine consumption per capita.


  • MDMA consumption had a weekly average of 7.8 kilograms during Q3 2020. This is a slight increase compared with Q2 2020, where the average weekly consumption was 7.1 kilograms.
  • Southern, Wellington and Canterbury Districts continued to consume the most MDMA per capita throughout Q3.


  • The average national weekly consumption of cocaine was 0.4 kilograms during Q3 2020. This is a slight increase when compared with Q2 2020 where 0.1 kilograms was consumed.
  • Tāmaki Makaurau, Canterbury and Southern Districts consumed the most cocaine per capita during Q3 2020.

Fentanyl and Heroin

  • Tasman District had an unusual fentanyl increase during the week of testing in August 2020, which significantly impacted the quarterly average. This was investigated and found to be a testing anomaly.
  • Apart from this, fentanyl and heroin were rarely detected above the limit of quantification in Q3 2020 and no patterns of use are apparent. These results are consistent with other indicators that the opiate user population in New Zealand is very low.