A flood of special votes and a surge of last-minute returns may see Tauranga's turnout eclipse that of the last two elections.

As of 10.22pm yesterday, Tauranga City Council's returns were at 37.4 per cent - a two-point bump on the day before representing about 2000 more votes.

That's already higher than 2013's 37.78 per cent, but not quite over 2016's 38.07 per cent.

Tauranga electoral officer Warwick Lampp, however, predicted last night the final turnout for Tauranga might top 40 per cent.

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He said there had been an unexpectedly large late surge of ballots in elections all over New Zealand this year.

A ballot box at Greerton Library. Photo / File
A ballot box at Greerton Library. Photo / File

Around 10,000 votes were counted in Tauranga between Wednesday and Saturday night, just under a third of the 35,549 counted since voting began on September 23.

In total, the city has 94,873 potential electors.

Preliminary results - a count of all ordinary voting papers, but not all special votes - are due out this afternoon.

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council's voter returns were sitting at 33.56 per cent as of Friday, the most up-to-date available information.

That was well below the 38.37 per cent achieved in 2016.