Trent Boult grabbed two wickets as New Zealand reduced England to 50 for two and seized the advantage at the end of the second day of the deciding third Test at Eden Park on Saturday.
Boult had England captain Alastair Cook caught behind for four then trapped Jonathan Trott in front for 27 as England slumped to 44 for two and handed the momentum back to the hosts.
Nick Compton was on 12, while Ian Bell was six not out and the visitors will head into the third day 393 runs behind, having dismissed New Zealand for 443 after tea following a feisty knock by Tim Southee.
Pace bowler Southee, who had been criticised for his cavalier approach to batting throughout the series, persisted with his attacking tactic and belted 44 runs in 33 balls to grab the initiative back for his side.
Steven Finn then raced through the tail after Southee was caught by wicketkeeper Matt Prior to finish with six wickets for 125, matching his career best figures against Australia in 2010.
Prior ended the innings with five catches.
"I felt as though I've bowled better in this game than I did in the previous two games," Finn told reporters. "My lengths have been better, I've been fuller, making the batsman come forward more often than I have done in the previous games.
"But again that was a little bit of a rhythm thing, and I've felt good in this game so far.
"I was fortunate to get a couple of wickets today, but as a team we felt as though that we deserved some fortune."
New Zealand, however, negated that opportunity when Cook got a faint edge down the leg side from a Boult delivery and he was caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
Trott and Compton, who had combined for a 210-run partnership in the drawn second Test at the Basin Reserve, looked in control as they were barely Tested by New Zealand's pace attack.
The introduction of left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, however, created some pressure at the northern end of the ground and Boult was switched to the southern end and got a ball that pitched on middle to seam back and hit Trott in front.
New Zealand's hopes of posting a score in excess of 500 in the series-deciding third match were stymied earlier in the day.
England's bowlers had seized the momentum in a miserly first session by capturing three wickets, removing Kane Williamson (91), Ross Taylor (19) and Peter Fulton (136), while allowing just 62 runs in 28 overs.
That slow scoring rate had set up an intriguing middle session with New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum seemingly well set at lunch and ready to launch a bludgeoning attack when he returned.
McCullum, who had scored six half centuries in his last seven innings against England, quickly advanced to 38 after the break and his eyes lit up when part-time seamer Jonathan Trott was introduced to the attack.
But twice McCullum mistimed shots against the slower pace then he chased a swinging wide delivery and was well caught by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
The last recognised batsman Dean Brownlie fell shortly after for 36 when he cut a wide James Anderson delivery straight to Compton at backward point before Southee began his counter attack.
"We set out to put a strong first innings performance together and from the position we were in at one point we may have been looking at a few more but I think were happy with our total," Williamson told reporters.
"It was nice to pick up a couple of wickets at the end of the day, and key wickets at that.
"If we can get the ball swinging there is a little bit of bounce there and if you hit the wicket you'll get as much as you can out of it."
New Zealand first innings (overnight 250-1)
P. Fulton c Prior b Finn 136
H. Rutherford c Cook b Finn 37
K. Williamson c Prior b Anderson 91
R. Taylor c&b Panesar 19
D. Brownlie c Compton b Anderson 36
B. McCullum c Prior b Trott 38
BJ Watling c Prior b Finn 21
T. Southee c Prior b Finn 44
B. Martin c Trott b Finn 10
N. Wagner not out 2
T. Boult c Compton b Finn 0
Extras (b-4, lb-4, nb-1) 9
Total (all out, 152.3 overs) 443
Fall of wickets: 1-79, 2-260, 3-289, 4-297, 5-365, 6-373, 7-424, 8-436, 9-443
Bowling: Anderson 30-8-79-2, Broad 30-6-94-0 (nb-1), Finn 37.3-8-125-6, Panesar 47-17-123-1, Trott 6-3-9-1, Root 2-1-5-0
England first innings
A. Cook c Watling b Boult 4
N. Compton not out 12
J. Trott lbw b Boult 27
I. Bell not out 6
Extras (w-1) 1
Total (for two wickets, 25 overs) 50
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-44
Bowling: Boult 10-4-26-2, Southee 6-4-12-0, Wagner 2-0-6-0 (w-1), Martin 7-4-6-0
Photograph: Nigel Marple/Reuters