A terrific spell of bowling from Keshav Maharaj helped South Africa bowl out the hosts for 171 in the final session of day 3 before the visitors chased down a target of 81 with little trouble to go 1-0 up. The left-arm spinner ended with six wickets in the innings, his second haul of five wickets or more in the series.
Earlier, New Zealand took just three overs to clean up the last South African wicket, however, Morne Morkel returned with the new ball to dismiss the top three. Rabada then bowled a hostile spell to the New Zealand opener, Jeet Raval, who bore the blows and smacked a fine 80.
Maharaj then proceeded to clean up the middle order with flight, drift and turn. Watling offered a bit of resistance but Maharaj was too good for the others as he picked up career-best figures of 6/40.
Chasing 81 for victory, South Africa once again lost Stephen Cook for 11 and Elgar to a lifter from Wagner. Amla and Duminy, however, took South Africa to the target without trouble and helped gain a 1-0 lead in the series.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 268/10. South Africa 359/10 (de Kock 91, Bavuma 89, de Grandhomme 3/52). New Zealand 171/10 (Raval 80, Watling 29, Maharaj 6/40). South Africa 83/2 (Amla 38).
Take a glance at the talking points from day three of the Wellington Test.
#5 Morkel fires with bat and ball
Morne Morkel came out to bat with an aggressive intent having already compiled a good looking 31 yesterday. He smoked Jeetan Patel over mid-on for a four and added nine more runs to be dismissed on 40.
Morkel went on to take the new ball and almost had Latham in his very first over. He made amends two overs later when the out of form opener edged him to JP Duminy in the cordon. Morkel showed some intent and managed to generate zip off the surface.
The tall fast bowler proceeded to give New Zealand the knockout punch by dismissing their batting mainstay and skipper, Kane Williamson for 1 with a peach of a ball that nipped away off the pitch to catch his outside edge. He returned after the lunch break to prise out Neil Broom with another excellent delivery.
#4 Rabada and Philander put on a display before lunch
Morkel had already reduced New Zealand to 26/2 in the opening seven overs. Rabada was introduced into the attack after a drinks break and looked set to target the left-handed Jeet Raval. The Black Caps opener was given a thorough working over with rib ticklers and yorkers.
Rabada clocked above 140kmph consistently as he had Raval fending off his gloves countless times. Philander, meanwhile, tested the debutant, Neil Broom, with deliveries that nipped off the seam just outside his off-stump.
Raval found the boundary twice but each time Rabada came back at him with more venom. The Kiwi opener went into the lunch break with quite a few blows on his fingers.
#3 Jeet Raval's rock solid innings
Ever since taking over the task of opening the innings in Tests for the Black Caps from Martin Guptill, Jeet Raval has been a picture of concentration and poise. The elegant left-handed batsman has stood out from the rest with his ability to graft an innings.
In Wellington, with all the odds stacked against him, Raval played beautifully to notch up a cracking 80. He kept losing partners at frequent intervals courtesy some exceptional bowling from the Proteas but was unperturbed until the time he ran down to Maharaj and got stumped by de Kock for 80.
The quality of the bowling attack makes his knock even more special. The fact that the ball was seaming, turning and swerving makes it the best he has played in his international career thus far. There is much much more to come from this old-fashioned Test opener.
#2 Watling's fight in vain
BJ Watling and Jeet Raval seemed like the only two batsmen determined to play out the sharp bowling from the Proteas. Watling had resisted in the first innings as well making 34 from 132 balls and occupying the crease for large periods.
In the second innings, he walked in with the New Zealand innings in shambles at 90/5 and still trailing South Africa by a run. He put on a 65-run partnership with Raval but the latter eventually ran out of patience and charged down to Maharaj to be out stumped.
Watling continued to fight single-handedly but soon ran out of partners as Maharaj wreaked havoc at the other end. A frustrated Watling watched Southee slog one down to long-off to leave him stranded with the No. 10 and 11 for company.
Before long, Watling, who was left with just one partner, tried to hit Maharaj for a six only to be caught at long-off for 29 off 83 balls.
#1 Keshav Maharaj takes back to back fifers
A spinner taking a five-wicket haul in New Zealand usually meant Daniel Vettori just running through the opposition on a fifth-day pitch. But a few years after his retirement another spinner, unfortunately for his team, from another country, has grabbed two five-wicket hauls in consecutive Tests in New Zealand.
That it is a South African is perhaps the biggest surprise of it all. Keshav Maharaj has been just the right foil for the pack of wolves that the South African pacers are. He has shown patience and been rewarded for his persistence.
On a crucial day three at Wellington, he prised out six Kiwi wickets including Nicholls, Neesham, de Grandhomme and Watling aside from that of the top scorer, Raval. The exceptional performance meant that New Zealand were bowled out for 171 with a lead of just 80.