Daniel Vettori helped steady New Zealand's innings at 176-5 after Australia's inexperienced bowling attack had earlier threatened to skittle the tourists on the rain-curtailed opening day of the first Test on Thursday.
Injury-hit Australia handed debuts to pacemen Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson as well as opening batsman David Warner and all three played integral roles as the hosts reduced New Zealand to 96-5 in the first over after lunch.
Former captain Vettori, one of Test cricket's most prolific tailend batsmen, launched a fightback with a battling 45 in an unbeaten partnership of 80 with Dean Brownlie (32) to rescue the innings before bad weather halted play just before tea.
The Blacks Caps, who had come into the match confident they could end their 26-year wait for a Test win in Australia, won the toss and elected to bat, with opener Brendon McCullum taking the game to the hosts in typically aggressive fashion.
The 30-year-old hammered 12 runs off Pattinson's first over to give the quick a rude welcome to Test cricket and drove his side to 44 without loss before his partner Martin Guptill was caught behind off the bowling of Peter Siddle for 13.
Starc, who finished with 2-52, grabbed the first of his two wickets on the final ball of his fifth over to remove McCullum for 34, tempting the former wicketkeeper into an attempted cut which left Warner with an easy catch at point.
Finger spinner Nathan Lyon, playing his first match at the Gabba in his sixth Test, got his reward for a fine spell 20 minutes before lunch when Kane Williamson popped the ball to close fielder Usman Khawaja for 19.
Pattinson, who gave up 50 runs in his 11 overs, rounded out a good morning for Australia when Taylor swung at a full delivery and edged the ball onto his stumps for 14 just before lunch.
Six balls into the afternoon session, left-armer Starc benefited from another loose stroke from a New Zealander to dispatch Jesse Ryder with Warner again taking the catch, this time at gully.
That turned out to be the last wicket to fall for the day, although Brownlie rode his luck with Australia skipper Michael Clarke spilling a straightforward chance at slip and Warner missing a more difficult catching opportunity in the next over.
The final four days of the first of two Tests between the trans-Tasman rivals will start half an hour earlier at 9.30 am local time (2330 GMT) in an attempt to make up for the lost session.
B. McCullum c Warner b Starc 34
M. Guptill c Haddin b Siddle 13
K. Williamson c Khawaja b Lyon 19
R. Taylor b Pattinson 14
J. Ryder c Warner b Starc 6
D. Brownlie not out 32
D. Vettori not out 45
Extras: (b-9, w-3, nb-1) 13
Total: (for five wickets, 51 overs) 176
Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-56, 3-78, 4-93, 5-96
Bowling: Pattinson 11-1-50-1 (nb-1, w-2), Siddle 15-5-29-1 (w-1), Starc 13-0-52-2, Lyon 10-0-31-1, Hussey 2-0-5-0