Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori blazed centuries to turn New Zealand's fortunes around on the first day of the first Test against Zimbabwe in Harare, on Sunday.
McCullum scored 111 and Vettori made 127, the fastest Test century by a New Zealander, to guide the visitors to 452 for nine at the close after they were sent in to bat.
The aggressive McCullum drove, cut and pulled with gusto from the outset after arriving at the crease with New Zealand teetering on 113 for five.
McCullum faced 112 balls and hit 15 fours and a six.
He and captain Stephen Fleming, who scored 73, steadied the innings with their sixth-wicket partnership of 120.
The less elegant but equally effective Vettori smashed and grabbed his runs off 98 balls with 20 fours and two sixes.
After surviving a chance on 67, Vettori reached his second Test century off 82 balls with 15 fours. He was eventually dismissed with a yorker from fast bowler Heath Streak two overs before the close.
The previous New Zealand record was held by Bruce Taylor, who faced 83 balls to reach three figures against West Indies in Auckland in 1968-69.
Earlier in the day medium-pace seamer Blessing Mahwire, who finished with three for 115, snapped up two wickets in three balls to give Zimbabwe the early advantage.
Mahwire struck in the eighth over when Lou Vincent, on 13, attempted a slashing cut at Mahwire and was well taken in the gully by Stuart Carlisle.
Two balls later, opener James Marshall was caught behind for five after edging a superb Mahwire leg-cutter.
Hamish Marshall and Fleming steadied New Zealand with a third-wicket stand of 39 before Marshall, on 20, was trapped in front by fast bowler Chris Mpofu with a delivery that pitched on middle stump and held its line.
Despite being reduced to 63 for three in the 16th over, Fleming and Nathan Astle batted with more freedom as lunch approached.
Astle (23) was dismissed just after the break when he limply drove a ball from Streak and was caught by a diving Brendan Taylor at second slip.
New Zealand lost their fifth wicket 19 balls later when Scott Styris was run out for seven by a direct hit from Hamilton Masakadza at mid-on.
Fleming batted with patience while McCullum attacked the bowling and their contrasting approaches gradually wore down the Zimbabweans.
Mpofu spent time off the field with a hamstring injury before returning to dismiss Fleming with the last ball before tea. He induced a drive from Fleming which was caught by Carlisle in the gully.
With New Zealand firmly on top, Vettori batted freely and added 76 off 77 balls for the seventh wicket with McCullum.
The stand ended when McCullum sliced a delivery from Mahwire to deep cover, where Graeme Cremer dived to take a catch over his shoulder.
Vettori and James Franklin smashed 60 runs off 67 balls before long-suffering leg-spinner Cremer beat Franklin with flight and bowled him for 13 to end the day with figures of one for 113 from 22 overs.
Shane Bond was 41 not out, with three fours and three sixes, with Chris Martin on four.
New Zealand 1st innings
J. Marshall c Taibu b Mahwire 5
L. Vincent c Carlisle b Mahwire 13
H. Marshall lbw b Mpofu 20
S. Fleming c Carlisle b Mpofu 73
N. Astle c Taylor b Streak 23
S. Styris run out 7
B. McCullum c Cremer b Mahwire 111
D. Vettori b Streak 127
J. Franklin b Cremer 13
S. Bond not out 41
C. Martin not out 4
Extras (b-1 lb-7 nb-5 w-2) 15
Total (for 9 wickets, 89 overs) 452
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-24, 3-63, 4-104, 5-113, 6-233, 7-309, 8-369, 9-432.
Bowling: Streak 23.4-5-102-2, Mahwire 26-4-115-3 (nb-2 w-2), Mpofu 16.2-1-100-2 (nb-2), Cremer 22-0-113-1 (nb-1), Taylor 1-0-14-0.