2 Nov 2018

Cheap fuel makes small town a hot destination

8:30 pm on 2 November 2018

A small self-service petrol station in the middle of the North Island is proving a magnet for motorists in search for the cheapest fuel in the country.

Ātiamuri Gull Station on State Highway 1.

Ātiamuri Gull Station on State Highway 1. Photo: RNZ / John Boynton

At the Ātiamuri Gull Station on State Highway 1 between Tokoroa and Taupō fuel prices are almost 30 cents a litre cheaper than other areas around New Zealand.

Prices this week at the station for 91 unleaded fuel sit at $2.10 per litre.

Mandy Burkitt clocks up thousands of kilometres in her job as a drinks distributor travelling across the North Island.

She is also a frequent visitor to the petrol pumps at Ātiamuri.

"I come here every week and I fuel up here it's great - it's the cheapest I can find," Ms Burkitt said.

Ms Burkitt said the rising cost of fuel was hitting the pockets of small business owners.

"I do over about a thousand kilometres a week and it's a huge impact and in the last two years it's risen 50 cents a litre."

Mandy Burkitt fills up her car's tank at Ātiamuri Gull Station.

Mandy Burkitt fills up her car's tank at Ātiamuri Gull Station. Photo: RNZ / John Boynton

She understands the need to move away from consuming fuel and would love to buy an electric car - but it's unaffordable to her at the moment.

"Make it so the general public to able to afford to one - I looked at one the other day it was $58,000 that's a bit out of the general Joe Blog's reach."

When RNZ visited the petrol station yesterday the price of 91 unleaded fuel was $2.10 cents and diesel was $1.367 per litre.

Tokoroa local Trevor Connell made the trip out to Ātiamuri with his family to fill up his car - which is a 10-minute drive south.

Mr Connell said the fuel prices were "primo."

"It's cheap here... it's always cheap here - the best place in New Zealand I think."

Ātiamuri Gull Station.

Ātiamuri Gull Station. Photo: RNZ / John Boynton

David McKechnie has owned the shop beside the station for the last two years and said simple economics was the reason for the cheap prices.

"The logical answer is because it's in the middle of nowhere, that [land] is leased so they don't have to pay any staff or anything and where it is is fairly frequently used."

At peak times in the weekend, Mr McKechnie said thousands of vehicles could pour through the station.

But fuel wasn't the only popular purchase.

"We make the best pork crackling in New Zealand so that makes it even better - it's the best seller - they come for the fuel and the pork crackling," he said.

Last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out any fuel tax for the regions while she's in power. Aucklanders had an 11.5 cent a litre tax added to the price of fuel in July.

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