Tireless seamer Neil Wagner says the Black Caps will have to work hard to recover from a see-saw second day in the second Test against South Africa in Wellington.
South Africa have stretched out a useful 81-run lead, hanging on grimly to finish 349-9 on a rapidly flattening track at the Basin Reserve.
New Zealand had dominated the first session on Friday, picking up four wickets to leave the Proteas 104-6 at lunch after snaring openers Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar cheaply late on the first day.
Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma then stepped up in the second session to see South Africa through to 218-6 at tea, eventually putting on a 160-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
And although the Black Caps picked up three wickets in the final session, they couldn't dislodge Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, who constructed an unbeaten 47-run last-wicket stand.
At close of play, South Africa had added 255 runs for the loss of four wickets in 65 overs.
"It was a bit of a tough day, a see-saw day, I guess - we were in a really good position this morning," Wagner said.
"Then there was an outstanding partnership between Bavuma and de Kock. They batted really well, and never gave us a chance.
"As conditions flattened out, I thought they made the most of it. But obviously there's still a lot of cricket left to play."
Wagner returned figures of 3-96, including the key wickets of Bavuma and JP Duminy, while Colin de Grandhomme contributed 3-52 and Tim Southee 2-98.
Earlier, de Kock had looked well on target for his fourth hundred in 17 Tests after piling on 114 runs in a productive second-session partnership with Bavuma (89).
But Jimmy Neesham struck a key blow for the Black Caps eight overs into the final session.
De Kock caught an edge as he chased a full delivery angling away, and wicketkeeper BJ Watling made no mistake with the regulation catch.
De Kock's 91 came off 118 balls, and included 10 boundaries and three sixes, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper playing his shots with confidence despite the Proteas' perilous position after lunch.
"Going into bat, we knew the pressure was on us to somehow shift the pressure back onto them," de Kock said.
"I didn't want to get bogged down, so the only way I knew forwards was to play my natural game, just a little bit more aggressive than usual."