Tenby Powell has beaten incumbent Greg Brownless.
Businessman and former army officer, Tenby Powell grew up in Tauranga and earlier this year returned to live in the city to contest the mayoralty. He wants to change the culture of the council.
He said he always knew he had a fighting-chance of winning.
Mr Powell said he did not accept that the city council could not perform to the level of its private sector counterparts.
"I think we do need to change the culture and the tone of the city council, and I think it needs to be outwardly facing, and I think it needs to be able to deliver services to the residents of the city, who at the end of the day are its customers."
Meanwhile in Whakatane, Judy Turner is the new mayor after former mayor Tony Bonne retired at the election.
The Mayor of Rotorua, Steve Chadwick, has been returned with a majority of nearly 2000 votes.
The Mayor of Western Bay of Plenty Garry Webber has also been returned to office.
And one of the country's longest-serving mayors is back for another term in Kawerau.
Malcolm Campbell beat his only rival by a huge margin, 1746 votes to 238. He's been mayor for the past 18 years.