Kiwis have been "fleeced" at the petrol pump for a decade now with a new report slamming the industry's lack of competition and the Prime Minister vowing to act.

The Government had already started working on options to drive fuel prices down at a time when average prices had hit $2.30 in the West Coast and $2.16 in Auckland, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Prices were being kept high by a lack of competition that allowed fuel sellers to possibly earn close to $400 million a year in excess returns, a new draft report by the Commerce Commission found.

"Our instinct was certainly that New Zealanders were being fleeced at the pump, now the Commerce Commission has confirmed that," Ardern said.


"I can tell New Zealanders we cannot stand by as they are facing that pressure at the pump and while they are being fleeced."

The report's findings come as Kiwis have been squeezed on all sides by rising house, food and petrol prices over the past decade.

Yet while ordinary Kiwis battle, fuel companies appear to have enjoyed the good times.

The commission said its report indicated all fuel companies had made "excess returns" in the three years up to 2018, an unusual thing to happen if the market was truly competitive.

Automobile Association spokesman Mark Stockdale said talk of fuel companies earning $400m in excess returns had left Kiwi motorists wanting urgent answers.

"We don't know how much more we are paying than we should be and how much prices could potentially fall ... are we talking 5c, 10c, 20c?," he said.

Stockdale urged the Government to quickly let motorists know what it was going to do, when it would act and by how much prices would fall.

Rosie Marriott has only spent $480 on her Nissan Leaf in two years. Photo / Supplied
Rosie Marriott has only spent $480 on her Nissan Leaf in two years. Photo / Supplied

However, he acknowledged prices wouldn't drop overnight as the Commerce Commission was only due to file its final report by the end of the year.


Gull general manager Dave Bodger was sceptical a consultation process with the industry would create consensus, given the lack of change over the past decade.

He was also "unapologetic" for running an efficient business after Gull was found to be making strong returns.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges, meanwhile, took aim at the Government, blaming it for the high prices.

Since being elected, the Government had added almost 24c in fuel taxes – 12c in excise and 11.5c in the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax.

"If it wasn't for the Government's taxes, [91 fuel per litre] would be much more around the $2 mark, and that would be much more affordable for families really struggling," Bridges said.

With the blame game set to rage on, Consumer NZ warned motorists to be wary of fuel discount vouchers in the meantime.

They often acted as "an illusion of 'getting a discount' rather than getting the best price", the customer lobby said.

It argued consumers would be better off without discounts or loyalty programmes because this would promote price transparency.

However, BP and Z Energy said the programmes were a sign of a competitive market.

Elsewhere some motorists were turning to electric cars. Hastings woman Rosie Marriott bought a Nissan Leaf two years ago and said she had only spent $480 on it during that time, for a total mileage of 10,000 kilometres.

"It's just $240 a year to run ... it's amazing," she said.