An Auckland councillor says the city wants to slash bar hours in part because the council can't afford more public transport in the early hours.
The council has started accepting submissions from the public on its draft Local Alcohol Policy.
Police have previously said introducing varying closing times is a recipe for disaster.
The policy sets a default closing time of 3am for central city bars and 1am for those in outlying areas.
George Wood, who heads the council's strategy and policy committee, said the planned closing times align with when public transport shuts down and there is no way for young people to get home after 3am, apart from using expensive taxis.
Mr Wood said young people staying in the central city after that time can be a blight on downtown Auckland.
The council looked at putting on buses for another hour but it couldn't afford to, he said.