Neil Wagner made an impressive return to the New Zealand line-up Wednesday as South Africa struggled for runs in the opening session of the first Test in Dunedin.
Showing no sign of discomfort from the finger he broke on his bowling hand five weeks ago, the South African-born bowler took two for 23 as New Zealand restricted his former countrymen to 63 for three at lunch.
After being 22 for three at one stage, Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis mounted a rescue mission with an unbeaten 41-run partnership. Elgar was not out 36 with du Plessis on 18.
South Africa captain du Plessis snapped a run of 22 Tests in New Zealand where the skipper winning the toss has opted to bowl.
But his decision to bat did not produce the runs he wanted as New Zealand extracted life from a dry wicket.
After the first hour produced just 16 runs from 16 overs, Wagner came into his own with his first over when he took two wickets in five balls.
The conditions would not normally suit Wagner, a short-pitched specialist, but he adjusted to a fuller delivery to bowl Hashim Amla for one and then made a ball rise to have JP Duminy caught off the gloves, also for one.
Trent Boult, who claimed the first wicket with Stephen Cook lbw for three, had one for eight off nine overs.
Boult's regular new-ball partner Tim Southee has been dropped for the Test to make way for a second spinner in Jeetan Patel.
Patel was introduced to the attack in the sixth over and extracted immediate turn as he delivered a tight 12 overs for 27 runs.