A woman's generous offer at a McDonald's drive-through started a chain reaction of customers paying for other people's meals.

Rolleston McDonald's shift manager Lizzie Treymane said the woman came through the drive-through about 5pm on Tuesday and insisted on paying for the meal of the motorist behind her as well.

"She said she wanted to pay for theirs too. It was a $50 order so that was pretty incredible."

Ms Treymane said when the next vehicle came through to pay for their order and staff told the driver their food had already been paid for, they were shocked.

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"We said that the customer before them had already paid for their food and they were shocked, so they wanted to pay for the order behind them too."

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This led to eight cars in the drive-through paying it forward for customers behind them.

"It's not something that happens every day so it was really good to see."

A staff member said they had seen the woman pay for other meals two or three times in the past month, but it had never started a chain reaction as it did this time.

A member of the community who witnessed the event took to the Rolleston Community Page on Facebook to share what had happened.

The post attracted nearly 1000 likes and 50 comments in a day.

One comment said the post was lovely and so nice to read.

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Another said: "We have a great community out here in Rolly Land."