Martin Guptill and Daniel Flynn provided New Zealand with the solid start that had been missing from the top order to brighten their chances of avoiding defeat in the third Test against South Africa
The new opening pair saw off the new ball and guided New Zealand to 65 without loss at stumps, blunting the South African attack and then finishing the day on the front foot with some positive strokeplay.
South Africa had all but confirmed a series victory by piling up 474 for nine declared, batting New Zealand out of the match through centuries from Alviro Petersen and JP Duminy.
Mark Gillespie’s six-wicket haul pegged South Africa back over the second half of the day and slowed them up at a time when they were looking to add quick runs, but by that stage the tourists were already well on top.
New Zealand took the second new ball in the second over of the day, but Petersen brought up his third Test century and continued to dominate the bowling with his solid defence and punishing pull shot.
At the other end Duminy, who began the day on 76, extended his smooth innings and went to his century an hour into the day as the partnership for the third wicket grew to 200.
The left-hander became the only wicket of the morning shortly afterwards though, when he edged Gillespie to first slip to depart for 103.
AB de Villiers accompanied Petersen to the lunch break, with the latter moving past the 150 mark shortly before the interval, before New Zealand finally had some success.
Petersen was trapped lbw by Chris Martin in the first over after lunch, and received a standing ovation from a strong Basin Reserve crowd as he made his way off for 156.
Martin then made it a double blow when he had de Villiers (38) play on four overs later.
Gillespie replaced Martin shortly after, and got rid of Jacques Rudolph and Dale Steyn to ensure that South Africa managed just 75 runs from a session that they were hoping would bring some quick runs.
Some clever batting from Mark Boucher (46) and big hitting from Vernon Philander (29) after tea helped the Proteas make progress, but Gillespie eventually dismissed both men to claim his second five-for in as many matches and his first six-wicket haul in Test cricket.
Having run through New Zealand twice in Hamilton without too much trouble the expectation was for South Africa to make early inroads, but Guptill showed a more compact style while Flynn displayed plenty of guts.
The left-hander was hit on the body four or five times as South Africa tested him with the short ball, but the closest he came to being dismissed was when an inside edge off Morne Morkel flew to Boucher’s right-hand side and the wicketkeeper failed in his attempt at a one-handed take.
Flynn will resume on day four on 35 not out, while Guptill is on 28 not out.
Just 79 overs of play were possible across the first two days of the match due to rain, but sunny weather is expected for days four and five.