Police in Cairns have appealed to the public for information as they try to piece together the final movements of a New Zealand man found dead in the city centre in suspicious circumstances.

The body of 27-year-old Philip Quayle, a hospitality worker, was found on the nature strip of a city street early on Thursday morning. It was only about 100 metres from the home in Cairns he had shared with his brother for several years.

According to police, Quayle had been out with his girlfriend, but had become separated from her at about 2.15am, near the Railway Hotel, in circumstances that were unclear.

Security cameras captured him walking along Spence Street, near the Cairns Central shopping centre, about 15 minutes later. At about 3.20am, just 200 metres further along the street, he was found by a passer-by.

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It is those missing 50 minutes - and 200 metres - that police are appealing for information about, since the CCTV footage petered out as Quayle approached the more suburban reaches of Spence Street.

"It's the community's eyes and ears we're looking for," said Detective Senior Sergeant Ed Kinbacher, who is leading the investigation. "It's somewhat unexplained as to what happened between those relatively short distances."

Quayle was unconscious when he was found by the passer-by, who tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly afterwards.

Kinbacher said police were keen to speak to witnesses, and hoped members of the public might be able to "fill in the blanks ... because quite simply we do run out of CCTV footage - it gets much scarcer once you turn on to Spence Street and head south along that section of roadway".

Senior Constable Russell Parker said Quayle's death was being treated as suspicious. "We are calling for anybody with information," he said. "We do know that this man was located deceased in that area at 3.30am, we don't know at this stage what his movements were prior to that."

Kinbacher said there were "some injuries which may cause some concern, whether a third party was potentially involved which caused those injuries ... What the circumstances are which may have caused those injuries, we do not know". He added, however, that "other alternatives" to murder were not out of the question.

Police established a crime scene along a block of Spence Street yesterday, diverting traffic. Quayle and his brother lived around the corner, on Lumley Street.