Is Whangamatā paying too much for gas?
The price of petrol at the town's only place to fuel up has got residents talking, and the national advertising campaign by petrol company Z is adding fuel to the fire.
"What is the justification for Whangamatā pretty much being charged what is charged in the South Island? It's out of control," says resident Peter Forward.
"We've got a lot of elderly folk here and we just want a fair go.
"The last I saw, diesel was $1.75 in Whangamatā, and I've just come from Kopu where it's $1.41, Thames $1.40 and Hikuai $1.35.
"Most Whangamatā people are thinking 'we're getting ripped off here'."
Forward uses mobile app Gaspy to check prices on fuel around the Coromandel and New Zealand, and says competition in other places ensures prices are kept reasonable. On Monday, a litre of 91 was $2.13 in Hikuai and $2.29 in Whangamatā. The Whangamatā Z station's owner referred NZME to the Z corporate head office for comment, saying prices were dictated by the "head honchos" in Wellington.
Z spokeswoman Sheena Thomas confirmed this was the case, saying prices were set based on international oil prices, the exchange rate and local competition.
"It is the types of local competition, the types of sites we compete against and what our customers want most that all contribute to differing petrol prices," she says.
Blair Williams owns five Subway franchises including in Ngatea, Paeroa and Whangamatā, and he travels to and from Ōhakune. He fuels up out of town as he says the price in Whangamatā is by far the highest out of these areas.
He believes consumers should be aware that even if they choose to vote with their tyres, they will be getting charged whether they drive into the local gas station or not.
"The flow-on is every contractor - lawn mowers, tree trimmers, road works etc - must pass this cost on to us their customers."
However, Thomas says about a third of Z's NZ sites currently have the same price as Whangamatā. This changes too, as sometimes Whangamatā is noticeably cheaper than other places. She said competition is intense.
"We understand the impact this has on people and businesses, and we don't like it either. Even from a purely commercial perspective, we see less volume when prices are high, so it is not in our interest to artificially keep prices high."