Civic leaders in Auckland and Wellington have renewed their calls for the government to allow more road tolls in a bid to reduce congestion in both cities.
An Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report released this morning said the cities were the second and third most congested in Australasia, behind Sydney.
The two-yearly report estimated congestion cost Auckland alone about $1.25 billion a year.
OECD economist David Carey, who wrote the report, said more motorways and some urban roads should be tolled.
"Congestion charging should be introduced and that would reduce the demand in peak times for traffic," he said.
David Carey said there should also be more provision of road infrastructure and public transport.
Auckland mayor Len Brown said decades of underinvestment was costing businesses and reducing residents' enjoyment of the city.
"I am pleased to see we have independently arrived at the same solution to this problem, that the most effective way to reduce congestion would be through a motorway user charge," he said
Len Brown, speaking while on a visit to New York, said Aucklanders had agreed they were willing to pay extra, preferably through a motorway charge, to have less traffic congestion and faster, more reliable public transport.
"I am now in discussion with central government to reach an agreement on how Auckland can raise its alternative transport funding. It will take some time to reach that agreement," he added.
Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster said the region's councils had pushed for congestion charging for years but failed to get government support.
"We just think that it makes absolute sense. I mean it's the kind of thing you'd think this government would have been supportive of," he said.
Mr Foster said Wellington councils would join forces with the Auckland Council to lobby the government for change.