JP Duminy scored his first Test half-century for two years and Quinton de Kock took advantage of his promotion up the order as South Africa had the better of day one of the series-decider against New Zealand.
De Kock (82), promoted in the absence of the injured Dean Elgar, and fellow opener Stephen Cook (56) set the tone at the top of the order on the first day of the second Test at Centurion.
Hashim Amla (58) was also in the runs and Duminy (67 not out) ended his long wait to pass 50 in the longest format after Kane Williamson had won the toss, putting the Proteas in a promising position on 283-3 at stumps.
Trent Boult (0-53) and Tim Southee (0-74) gave De Kock and Cook a stern examination with the new ball, but the openers stood firm and were rewarded as the runs started to flow.
Wicketkeeper batsman De Kock was strong off his legs and New Zealand were unsuccessful with a review when they thought Boult had Cook lbw, only for DRS to show that he had got an inside edge.
De Kock creamed Doug Bracewell (1-65) to the boundary to bring up the 50 partnership and was fortunate to see BJ Watling put down a difficult chance off the same bowler when the left-hander was on 42.
The aggressive De Kock brought up his half-century before lunch and South Africa's first century opening partnership in this format since December 2013 came just before the interval.
A watchful Cook was raising his bat after taking two off Southee, but a stand of 133 was ended when De Kock was caught in the deep pulling a short ball from Neil Wagner (2-51).
Bracewell also struck to end Cook's patient knock and Amla was given out leg before to Boult on 20, but the decision was overturned as the ball was missing leg stump.
The classy right-hander heightened New Zealand's frustration by upper cutting Southee for six and looked in great touch before Wagner had the former captain caught behind to end a partnership of 95 with Duminy.
Duminy would have been given out lbw to a Boult delivery on 20 if New Zealand had reviewed, and he then used the DRS to his advantage after umpire Ian Gould put his finger up when he was struck on the pads by a ball from Bracewell that pitched outside leg.
The left hander grew in confidence, hooking well and driving well down the ground as he ended his long wait for a significant Test knock and saw it through to the close with stand-in captain Faf du Plessis (13 not out) after Bracewell went off holding his hamstring late in the day.