Cheap petrol attracts long-distance drivers
A service station 55 kilometres southwest of Kaikoura has regular Kaikoura customers who drive out of their way to get a better deal on petrol, the owners say.
Parnassus Roadhouse owners Mark Taylor and Christine Aldersley say fuel sales at the State Highway 1 service station had increased by 50 per cent since they opened 12 months ago.
"We price petrol two to three cents cheaper than the major cities," Mr Taylor says.
"We would rather be competitive and have a higher turnover with a smaller profit than try and rip somebody off."
The couple, who used to own a cafe in Opawa, Christchurch, had been interested in buying the business for a few years before everything fell into place in August last year.
"We came up eight or nine times trying to get it," Mr Taylor says.
"It suited us. We liked it the minute we saw it and we knew we could do something with it."
The business includes a convenience store run by Miss Aldersley that sells coffee, bakery- made pies and freshly made sandwiches.
The couple have put in long hours to make the business work, with Mr Taylor often working 80 hours a week.
Miss Aldersley also used to work long hours but cut back after she had a stroke in May.
She is planning to have tearooms set up by summer, just in time for the busy holiday months.
"We get regular Kaikoura customers, because to everybody, even to us, every cent you save is a cent saved," Mr Taylor says.
"We have a couple and they come down and fill up, usually on a Sunday, and then they bring a 20-litre container with them they can fill up and that will get them through the week."
People might say it defeats the purpose of paying less for petrol if you drive out of the way to get it, but some people just like the coffee and the service, Mr Taylor says.
With five staff working for them and another one starting soon, the couple plan to increase the 400,000 litres of petrol they sell a year.
Plans to extend the workshop are under way as the reputation of their mechanic, Warren Ching, brings customers from as far as Lincoln, Mr Taylor says.
He suggests Kaikoura would keep local customers if petrol stations introduced a loyalty card.
"It would be nice for the locals to be appreciated, because if the tourist industry shuts down tomorrow, what are you left with? The good old locals."
- The Marlborough Express