Donald Tiripano and Prince Masvaure rescued Zimbabwe's first innings with a crucial 85-run partnership for the ninth wicket as a Neil Wagner-inspired New Zealand took control of the first Test.
The inexperienced pair saved the hosts from a humiliating total on day one in Bulawayo after coming together with the score 72-8, Zimbabwe recovering to reach 164 all out.
Masvaure stabilised the middle order on his Test debut with a patient 42, while Tiripano was left unbeaten on 49 in only his second international appearance in the longest format.
Without the late resistance Zimbabwe would have been facing an even tougher task, the hosts having lost wickets in quick succession earlier in the day, including four without a run being added in the second session.
Wagner was their tormentor in chief with a career-best 6-41, before the Black Caps openers reduced Zimbabwe's lead to 132, New Zealand closing 32-0.
The signs were ominous for Zimbabwe from the outset as Tim Southee (2-28) removed Brian Chari (4) with the second ball of the match.
Chamu Chibhabha (15) and Hamilton Masakadza (15) both made solid starts but were unable to build on them as Wagner and Mitchell Santner (2-16) opened their accounts - the former also added the wicket of Sean Williams (1) before lunch.
Wagner's hostile spell of bowling was making the home batsmen hop around the crease and as the pressure began to build, Zimbabwe crumbled.
After Craig Ervine (13) and Sikandar Raza (22) had steadied the ship somewhat, the dismissal of Ervine prompted a torrid two-over spell.
Santner deceived the 30-year-old to spark the 10-ball collapse that saw Raza, Regis Chakabva (0) and captain Graeme Cremer (0) follow with the score stuck on 72.
Removing Masvaure and Tiripano proved tougher, though, as they defiantly lifted Zimbabwe into three figures and in sight of Test match half centuries.
However, neither was able to get there as Masvaure was trapped lbw by Southee before Wagner completed his impressive day by bowling last man Michael Chinouya (1) - leaving Tiripano stranded on 49.
In reply New Zealand were able to negotiate the final 10 overs of the day without any trouble, Martin Guptill (14 not out) and Tom Latham (16no) both unbeaten as they look to build a big lead on day two.