Petrol prices may differ by 20 cents a litre across the city but in comparison to national prices, Rotorua can still claim the title as one of the cheapest places to fill up.

Nationally, fuel prices rose on two separate occasions in the latter half of March by an average of 5 cents per litre on all grades, according to AA Motoring's petrol watch report.

It said petrol commodity prices had gradually risen during March by about 7 cents per litre since the last pump rise on February 25, while fuel company margins on petrol had fallen to the lowest level in 12 months.

The national fuel price on March 29 saw 91-octane peak at $2.20 a litre while on February 25 it sat 5 cents cheaper at $2.15 a litre.

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An unofficial Rotorua Daily Post petrol price survey yesterday found prices varied from 191.9 cents to 211.9 cents for 91-octane.

AA Petrol prices spokesman Mark Stockdale said there were parts of New Zealand with more price competition which meant price would be lower, Rotorua being one of those places.

"Rotorua has among the cheapest prices in New Zealand and has done for a number of years.

"We would go as far as to say that the Mobil station on Te Ngae Rd is ground zero for setting the lowest prices."

Mitesh Patel has seven staff members that are run off their feet every day because of the cue of cars waiting to fill up. Photo / Stephen Parker
Mitesh Patel has seven staff members that are run off their feet every day because of the cue of cars waiting to fill up. Photo / Stephen Parker

However, he said customers were motivated by different things including convenience, service or food and drink.

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At 10am yesterday cars were queuing on to Te Ngae Rd for the $1.95 petrol at the Mobil which owner Mitesh Patel said was a common occurrence and lasted until 10.30pm.

"We are thinking about putting pumps around the back to help with the congestion.

"Our loyal customers are why we are cheap ... more customer volume means cheap fuel but it is our customer service that also brings them back."

One such loyal customer, Edma Thomas, travelled from Murupara to fill up because prices were too expensive in her town.

"It's about 60km but it is worth it. We always come to this Mobil because of the price."

Warrick Ellis from Springfield didn't have to travel as far but was happy to make the trip across town for cheaper fuel.

"I drive here because it is the cheapest in town, plus I can use my Smiles card which today gave me $10 off."

BP communications and external affairs manager Leigh Taylor said prices were set by the independent owners of stations but Rotorua was a competitive market.

"We are really conscious that fuel can be a reasonable proportion of a household budget, and we review BP Connect prices every day so our prices are as competitive as possible."

Gull general manager Dave Bodger said he kept his prices down by having low overheads but high prices could sometimes be out of their control.

"When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere and people drive their cars more that can create a greater demand for petrol and prices can go up.

"But on the main, and I have been in the oil industry for well over 20 years, you can't predict what is going to happen with fuel prices."

Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited chose not to speculate on future fuel prices due to the number of factors involved but said setting prices was a balancing act between the immediate effects and influences of the market versus the longer-term outlook for the business and industry.

Selection of petrol prices in Rotorua for 91
Gull Te Ngae Rd: $1.95
BP Te Ngae Rd: $1.91
Mobil Te Ngae Rd: $1.95
Waitomo Marguerita St: $1.98
BP Froude St: $2.08
Z Fenton St: $2.08
Mobil Fenton St: $2.08
Caltex Amohou St: $2.11
Gull Lake Rd: $2.05
Z Fairy Springs Rd: $2.07