Abstract We report new field, petrological and isotopic data and interpretations from one of New Zealand’s major basement geological boundaries, the contact between the east side of the Median Batholith (formerly Median Tectonic Zone) and the allochthonous Mesozoic terranes of the Eastern Province. In the Nelson and Hollyford–Eglinton areas this contact is a Cenozoic fault, the Median Tectonic Line of earlier workers. However, in the Longwood Range, unfaulted pre-Cenozoic geological relations are preserved intact. Our new Ar–Ar, U–Pb and isotopic data show that the Median Batholith in the Longwood Range consists of two suites. (i) Eastern, isotopically primitive (87Sr/86Sri = 0.702 to 0.703; ɛNdT = + 7 to + 8) trondhjemite and gabbroic rocks of Permian age that we believe are part of the intraoceanic Brook Street arc of the Eastern Province. (ii) Western, isotopically more evolved (87Sr/86Sri = 0.703 to 0.704; ɛNdT = + 3 to + 5) quartz diorites, quartz monzodiorites and rare granites of Middle Triassic to Early Jurassic age that we correlate with a pulse of magmatism elsewhere in the Median Batholith. Field observations in the Longwood Range indicate intrusive, not faulted, contacts between these units and constrain accretion of the Brook Street Terrane to Gondwana to have occurred 230–245 Ma. Intra-batholith shear zones (T ~ 600°C and P ~ 0.2–0.3 GPa) were active at approximately 220 Ma. Modelling of K-feldspar Ar incremental heating ages indicate that most of the Longwood Range had cooled below 175°C by the Middle Jurassic and experienced no subsequent reheating. Significant additional post-accretionary Early Cretaceous and Cenozoic thermotectonic activity in Median Batholith in the Hollyford-Eglinton area is indicated by a new 140 ± 2 Ma U-Pb zircon date on a Largs ignimbrite, as well as by Cenozoic K-feldspar Ar–Ar ages in the Middle Triassic Mistake Diorite.