Petrol in Taupō costs much the same as it does in Auckland and Wellington.
Barely a week goes by without Taupō & Tūrangi Weekender readers complaining about the price of fuel in Taupō or Tūrangi.
Locals write in to say it is much cheaper to buy petrol or diesel in other towns, often after fuelling up their vehicle in Hawke's Bay, Rotorua, New Plymouth or Palmerston North.
Generally petrol prices have gone up everywhere, mainly because of inflation and the price of crude oil.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for the June 2021 quarter show New Zealand petrol prices are up 6.1 per cent compared to the March 2021 quarter. Overall the CPI for the last quarter went up 3.3 per cent but petrol has risen out of proportion to other inflationary costs.
Stats NZ prices senior manager Aaron Beck says the weighted average price of a litre of 91 octane was $2.13 in the June 2021 quarter, up from $2 in the March 2021 quarter.
The price of crude oil is back to pre-pandemic levels, between $US70 to $US75 a barrel, and this also accounts for an increased cost at the pump.
However everyone in New Zealand is affected by inflation and changes to the price of crude oil and these factors serve to mask that Taupō vehicle owners are paying more at the pump than those in neighbouring towns.
A spokesperson from retail fuel price app Gaspy said they were unsure why fuel cost more in Taupō.
"But we can confirm that Taupō is relatively expensive."
Figures from Gaspy for Friday last week show the national average cost of unleaded 91 is $2.25. On the same day, out of nine petrol stations in Taupō town, the average cost was $2.36. The net result? On Friday, Taupō consumers were paying an average of 10.9 cents more per litre than everyone else in New Zealand.
Gaspy same-day statistics for Rotorua showed the average cost of unleaded 91 was $2.15, out of 19 petrol stations.
A regional fuel tax applies to Auckland, however the average cost of unleaded 91 petrol over 251 Auckland petrol stations was still cheaper than buying 91 in Taupō, coming in at $2.35
On a positive note, last Friday Gull Atiamuri was selling New Zealand's cheapest 91 unleaded, at $1.93.
On the flip side, the same day Gull Rifle Range Rd was selling unleaded 91 for $2.22 per litre. This was still the cheapest fuel in town but did go up 29 cents per litre after the 45km trip from Atiamuri.
On Friday the second cheapest unleaded 91 was being sold at Waitomo Taupō for $2.25. On Friday the most expensive place to buy fuel was at BP Connect Taupō on Ruapehu St for $2.41.
New Zealand Automobile Association (AA) principal policy adviser Terry Collins said his intuitive explanation for the high cost of Taupō petrol was the logistics cost of transporting fuel to the middle of the North Island.
"But it also comes down to a captive market."
The CPI shows that petrol prices are only a few cents below the last petrol price spike in September 2018 but Collins said the fuel industry was about to become more transparent.
From February 11 next year, each petrol station will have to display all fuel prices, not just unleaded 91.
"Petrol stations generally display the price of 91, but if you want to buy 95, 98 or diesel, sometimes there is up to 30 cents difference in price but that information isn't available to the motorist," said Collins.
MBIE collects data on what's called the importer margin, the gross margin available to fuel retailers to cover domestic transport, distribution and retailing costs in New Zealand, as well as profit margins. The figures for this year show a margin of 15 to 30 cents for every litre of fuel brought into the country.
These figures are about to become more detailed, with each petrol company being required to disclose the terminal gate price from Sunday, August 11. The terminal gate price is the wholesale spot price per litre that the fuel tanker pays at the port. As of last Friday, Gull was paying $1.82 for unleaded 91.
Z Energy said in a statement that fuel prices were very localised so even Rotorua and Taupō were not comparable. However the price of crude oil had gone up by around 43 percent since January. The company encouraged consumers to use its virtual fuel tank app Sharetank which allowed them to fill their virtual fuel tank at a location with a cheaper price and redeem it at a station in Taupō.
The AA's Terry Collins said having a cafe at the petrol station or having an attendant put the petrol in your car are premium services and customers can expect to pay more where there is a higher level of service.
"The other day I was in Tokoroa and the BP, which sells coffee, was selling fuel at $2.51 per litre, while the Gull was selling the same thing at $2.29 per litre."
He said many petrol station owners were only making three cents per litre, and encouraged people to download the Gaspy app, to see the current price of petrol sold by all the petrol stations in Taupō.