Paleoceanographic and onshore paleoclimatic changes during the last 59,000 yr are established from three deep-sea sediment cores off northeast New Zealand using an integrated log of sediment texture, CaCO3 content, palynology, and planktonic and benthic foraminiferal δ18O and δ13C data, together with dated silicic tephras. These records from the isotopic stage 4-3 boundary to the present record northern New Zealand vegetation history, changes in a subsidiary equatorward flow of Circumpolar Deep Water, and sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) for subtropical water (STW) between latitudes 36°42′ and 35°51′S. Relative to the Holocene, isotopically derived SSTs record average changes of +2°C, -2°C, and -2°C for the 59,000-43,000, 43,000-24,000, and 24,000-12,000 yr time slices, respectively. The apparent +2°C warming for the 59,000-43,000 yr period is interpreted to reflect changes in the dominant depth habitat of Globigerina bulloides in response to upwelling. A -2°C cooling of SSTs during isotope stage 2 is interpreted, in part, to reflect upwelling of cool subsurface water resulting from strong and persistent westerly airflow across New Zealand, with the concomitant enhanced surface-water production of CaCO3. Onshore, vegetation consistent with these changes are recorded, with full conifer-hardwood forest prior to 43,000 yr, followed by a change to vegetation implying cooler and drier conditions between 43,000 and 12,000 yr, and a subsequent return to full forest during the Holocene. The sequence of biopelagic and hemipelagic sedimentation observed within these cores reflect oscillation of sea level about a threshold eustatic level that controls the transport of terrigenous detritus offshore. Local variations and interplay of the regional oceanography and morphology and tectonism of the continental shelf will dictate that, relative to present sea level, this threshold eustatic sea level will vary in depth, and hence age, along a continental margin. Data from the New Zealand region reveal an extremely steep meridional thermal gradient across the southern and central New Zealand region during the last glaciation with minor cooling of STW to the north, apart from localized nearshore upwelling zones, but pronounced cooling of subantarctic water to the south of the subtropical convergence zone.