Martin Guptill fell without scoring as New Zealand set out after Australia’s 135-run first-innings lead after bowling the tourists out for 505 on day three of the second Test on Monday.
Home bowler Neil Wagner claimed his first six-wicket haul as Australia’s tail folded, losing their last five wickets for 41 after lunch at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval.
At tea New Zealand, chasing a series-levelling win in the second and final Test, were 43-1 in their second innings with Guptill out for a duck, nicking a James Pattinson delivery on off-stump to wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
However, early demons appeared to have long gone from the wicket and Tom Latham was not out 33 with Kane Williamson on 10.
Wagner, who removed Joe Burns (170) and Steve Smith (138) late on Sunday, completed his sweep of the Australian dangermen when he had Adam Voges caught for 60 in the second over after lunch.
The innings ended soon after but Australia had already batted themselves into a commanding position at the midway stage of the Test.
Voges, who had crushed New Zealand with his 239 in the first Test, looked set for another special score as he chalked up his fourth 50 to go with five centuries from 20 Test innings.
But his timing deserted him trying to pull a short Wagner delivery to the boundary. He was unable to get over the ball which flew off the top of the bat and was claimed by a leaping Latham at square leg.
It was 36-year-old Voges’ lowest score in five innings and while it brought his average down, it still stands at a remarkable 94.78.
With the West Australian out of the way and Nathan Lyon already dismissed by Williamson before lunch, New Zealand increased the pressure.
Wagner persisted with his short-pitched deliveries and continued to be rewarded when Mitchell Marsh joined the stream of Australians pulling the ball into the hands of fielders.
Marsh made 18 before he was caught by Henry Nicholls at mid-wicket.
Corey Anderson tempted Pattinson on the off-side and had the Australian quick caught by Trent Boult at point for one.
Wagner came back to finish off Nevill and Josh Hazlewood, both for 13, to return figures of six for 106 off 32.1 overs.
His previous best was five for 64 against Bangladesh in Dhaka three years ago.
After Australia won the first Test by an innings and 52 runs, they only need to draw the second to win the series and reclaim the number one world ranking.