The public will have to agree to tolls which could last for 35 years if work on a crucial stretch of motorway near Tauranga is to begin as early as next year.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce, who has been outlining plans for the Eastern Link from Te Maunga to Paengaroa, designated as one of the country's seven most important roading projects.
He says about a quarter of the $450 million projected cost of the motorway could come from tolling.
The Transport Agency says charging private cars $2 and trucks $4 would allow the start date to be brought forward to next year, with completion by 2016.
Without tolling, building work would begin between 2014 and 2019.