University students drink more heavily than their non-student peers in New Zealand. The promotion of alcohol via advertising is a known contributor to heavy drinking. The aim of this paper was to determine the nature and extent of alcohol-related advertising and related policies at New Zealand universities. We sought to obtain all issues for 2005, of student newspapers at five New Zealand universities that had participated in an ongoing research project examining alcohol-related harm. The number of alcohol-related advertisements was determined and counts were weighted by the proportion of the page they took up. We surveyed senior university administrators to determine whether policies existed to regulate alcohol advertising on campus. The number of alcohol-related advertisements in student publications ranged from 1 to 129 across the academic year (median: 74 advertisements, 34 full-page equivalents). At three universities, most advertisements promoted bars, pubs and restaurants, while at the other two universities, most alcohol-related advertising was for events sponsored by a brewery, alcohol company or local pub. At one university with almost no advertising, a brewery sponsorship agreement with the student association forbade other parties from advertising alcohol and related events. Alcohol-related advertising is pervasive in the New Zealand university student press. Student associations should consider the ethics of alcohol industry sponsorship in light of the high prevalence of heavy drinking in this population group.