Australia captain Steve Smith helped his bowlers skittle New Zealand for 183, and then scored 71 to lead the team to 147-3 in reply on day one of the first Test in Wellington.
The visitors bowled first at the Basin Reserve and Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum, playing his 100th consecutive Test, was out for a seven-ball duck as his side found themselves in almost irreversible trouble at 51-5 within the first hour.
Corey Anderson (38), No. 9 Mark Craig (41 not out) and No. 11 Trent Boult (24) offset some of the damage by putting on 86 for the last three wickets, but New Zealand were still out in only 48 overs and before tea.
The first seven wickets in New Zealand's innings fell to catches behind the wicket, four to keeper Peter Nevill.
And the domination of the bowlers continued when Australia lost openers Joe Burns (0) and David Warner (5) inside the first three overs to be 5-2, but Smith turned the tide as he joined Usman Khawaja in a 127-run partnership for the third wicket.
Smith was dropped by Craig at slip when on 18 and was fidgety at the crease until the pitch calmed down and he could play with more confidence.
He appeared set for a century when he gave Craig another chance and the spinner claimed a sharp return catch.
Khawaja finished 57 not out and Adam Voges was 7 not out. There was one last drama before stumps when the latter was bowled by Doug Bracewell off a no ball which appeared to be a mistake by the umpire.
Australia bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle were outstanding in their opening spells.
Hazlewood took 3-25 from his first eight overs and Siddle 2-6 from five. They shared the first seven wickets before spinner Nathan Lyon took the last three.
And Hazlewood finished with 4-42 to lead a depleted attack that was already down on strength with the retirement of Mitchell Johnson and injury to Mitchell Starc
Australia also lost James Pattinson to shin soreness before this match. His place was taken by Jackson Bird, who played his first Test since 2013 and went wicketless. Siddle had 3-19 after 11 over and finished with 3-37.
Anderson stemmed the tide of New Zealand wickets with an innings of 38 in 144 minutes, which included partnerships of 37 with B.J. Watling and 40 with Craig.
The 10th-wicket stand between Craig and Boult featured three sixes by Boult off Lyon. That took him to 16 for his Test career; the most ever by a No. 11 batsman.
Watch day two of the first Test between New Zealand and Australia on Sky Sports 2 HD from 9.30pm on Friday.