Port of Tauranga is about to call for tenders for one of its most expensive projects, the dredging of the harbour to allow for more traffic.
Resource consents were granted last year for the work, which will let bigger container ships in.
Tauranga is already the country's biggest port by volume and the first stage of the dredging alone will cost $50 million.
Some local iwi and hapu were concerned about the effect the operation would have on marine life and the environment and the plan went through several courts before it was approved.
The port's chief executive Mark Cairns said a $500,000 conservation fund Port of Tauranga has started will go some way towards improving the health of the harbour.
Dredging is expected to start next year.