Devon Conway's blistering 78 helped hosts New Zealand race to 155-2 against Sri Lanka at the end of a rain-delayed opening day of the second Test on Friday in Wellington.
Conway fell short of a hundred as he was caught and bowled by Dhananjaya de Silva, who dived low to his right to get both hands on a superb catch, to end a thrilling 108-ball knock.
"I was gutted to get out when I did, I had put in all the hard work," Conway said.
"Those are the ones you want to kick on and make the most of it on day one... We just have to focus on tomorrow now."
New Zealand started strong, with Conway and Tom Latham putting on an opening partnership of 87, after the 2,500th Test match in cricket history was hit by a damp start.
Heavy overnight rain delayed the toss until after lunch.
Latham fell for 21 around the halfway point of the day's curtailed proceedings when he spooned a Kasun Rajitha delivery to deep square, into the hands of Prabath Jayasuriya.
Conway responded by smashing 13 fours in a fiery knock.
Sri Lanka made one change from the team that lost the first Test on the final ball in Christchurch, with wicketkeeper Nishan Madushka making his debut in place of Niroshan Dickwella.
New Zealand were forced into a single switch with seamer Doug Bracewell playing his first Test since 2016, replacing Neil Wagner, who tore a hamstring in the first Test.
It is the first time Bracewell has played a Test match alongside his cousin Michael.
New Zealand are chasing a third straight Test win.