Henry Nicholls' ton culmination in a 116-run partnership with BJ Watling helped New Zealand to 268 after they were reduced to 21/3. The Kiwi seamers then found some rhythm of their own and reduced the Proteas to 24/2 at stumps on a riveting day of cricket at Wellington.
Earlier, South Africa won the toss and chose to bowl on a green pitch with Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada spearheading their attack. Morkel sent Tom Latham in a superb opening spell but Rabada did even better and pciked up the wickets of Kane Williamson and debutant, Neil Broom, in consecutive overs.
Henry Nicholls then did some repair job before Maharaj struck twice to bring Watling to the wicket. The wicket-keeper and Nicholls put on a crucial 116 run stand after which Duminy struck four times to cut short New Zealand's innings at 268.
Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme swung the ball around to dismiss the openers and put South Africa in a precarious position at the close of play.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 268/10 (Nicholls 117, Raval 36, Duminy 4/47); South Africa 24/2 (de Grandhomme 1/2)
Here are the talking points of the day from Wellington.
#5 Morne Morkel slammed after probing opening spell
The tall South African fast bowler who had made a return to International Cricket in the last Test was given the new ball ahead of Kagiso Rabada on a green pitch. If anything, it seemed like a dose of confidence from Du Plessis to his senior fast bowler.
Morkel delivered immediately by producing a ripper to get rid of Latham. A back of the length delivery seamed away after pitching in line with the stumps and Latham edged it to the slips. Morkel continued to ask questions with his pace, bounce and seam movement in an excellent opening spell of fast bowling.
However, once he was brought back into the attack after Lunch, James Neesham and Henry Nicholls took him on and smashed 31 in his next three overs. A spell that read 7-3-21-1 went to 10-3-52-1 and he was taken out of the attack.
#4 Rabada gets two quickly to pile on the agony
Kagiso Rabada, bowling as first change, picked up the biggest wicket when he had Kane Williamson trapped in front. The Black Caps skipper went for the review only to be informed by the Third umpire that ball-tracking isn't available and the on-field call would stay.
New Zealand did not lose a review even though they reviewed but it was a bizarre way to go in these days where DRS plays a huge role in cricket. Rabada went on to get rid of the debutant, Neil Broom, with a delivery that moved away after pitching.
De Kock took a stunning one-handed catch to end Broom's debut before it had even begun as Rabada picked up his second wicket in two overs. New Zealand, without their most experienced batsman, Ross Taylor, were quickly reduced to 21/3.
#3 Maharaj continues to impress
Keshav Maharaj is quickly becoming the steady, inauspicious spinner South Africa had been searching for ever since Paul Harris. The left-arm spinner picked up his maiden five-wicket haul in Dunedin and was once again right on the money here at Wellington.
Duminy was brought into the attack earlier than Maharaj but it was the latter who struck first with the key wicket of Jeet Raval moments before lunch. Raval pushed at a delivery outside off expecting it to turn, which it did not. The ball caught his edge and rested in slip's hands giving South Africa a crucial break before lunch.
Maharaj was taken off after lunch as Morkel and Rabada bowled to Nicholls and Neesham. The latter was severe on Morkel and punished him with three fours in an over prompting Faf to bring back Maharaj. The spinner struck again in his second over having the aggressive Neesham stumped to break another important stand.
#2 Nicholls slams maiden ton
Just when New Zealand appeared to be on the back foot, Henry Nicholls stepped up and played a gutsy knock in the company of BJ Watling. The southpaw showed exceptional judgement outside his off-stump and negotiated the South African seamers with aplomb.
He never let Maharaj settle into a rhythm against him and milked him for runs. Morne Morkel was taken out of the attack as Nicholls targeted his widish deliveries. A superb 116 run stand for the sixth wicket between Nicholls and Watling gave the Kiwis an advantage on Day 1.
JP Duminy eventually found the breakthrough when he had Nicholls bowled while he tried to step out. But he had notched up a fighting maiden hundred by then and swerved the day in New Zealand's direction.
#1 Duminy registers career best figures
JP Duminy was given the ball ahead of Keshav Maharaj but it was the latter that produced two crucial breakthroughs before and after lunch. Duminy, however, returned to the attack and ended the innings with career-best figures of 4/47.
He had the centurion, Nicholls, bowled before accounting for de Grandhomme with a drifting off-spinner that was edged to slip. He was lucky to get Watling caught behind off an under edge and then dismissed Wagner with a slider.
On a green pitch on Day 1, the South African spinners had taken six wickets, four of them falling to the part-time off-spin of JP Duminy.