Gordon Challis was born in England and moved to New Zealand in 1954. He began writing poetry while studying psychology and social work at Victoria University, and his poems were widely published in literary periodicals and in his first book, Building (1963). However, the intense pressures of his work in mental health care led him to abandon writing, and he published no poetry for many years.
After his retirement Gordon found — to his surprise — that writing slowly began returning to him and he went on to publish The Other Side of the Brain (2003) and Luck of the Bounce (2008). His poetry has been featured in anthologies such as the Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry, and in the New Statesman, Landfall, New Zealand Books and the Listener. He now lives in Golden Bay.