Thanks to Simon Katich's [ Images ] 106, half-centuries from Shane Watson [ Images ] and Michael Hussey [ Images ] and an unbroken 86-run stand between Michael Clarke [ Images ] and Marcus North, Australia reached 333 for four in their second innings at stumps on day three, an overall lead of exactly 300.
Just four wickets fell on the day, two each to home pacemen Tim Southee [ Images ] and Brent Arnel, while first innings hero Daniel Vettori [ Images ] went wicketless in 33 overs on a slow pitch still excellent for batting.
Fellow spinner Jeetan Patel [ Images ] was largely accurate but also went 27 overs without success.
Clarke and North, each on 42, will resume on Tuesday hoping to bat the hosts out of the Test .
The highest successful fourth innings run chase in 17 Seddon Park Test s is Australia's 212 for four, 10 years ago.
Australia resumed with a lead of just two runs, and it looked set to be their day when Watson, on 28, successfully challenged a Vettori lbw decision by Asad Rauf in the first over.
Third umpire Ian Gould ruled Watson was struck just outside the line of off stump.
The openers added 85 before Southee snaffled two wickets in five balls, both to well executed New Zealand plans.
Watson hit nine fours and two sixes in his 65 off 106 balls before he picked out BJ Watling, lurking at deep square leg.
Captain Ricky Ponting [ Images ] got under way in bizarre fashion when he hooked Southee over first slip for six, but wasn't so fortunate next ball.
Vettori stacked his leg side field 6-3, including two men at short mid-wicket, and Ponting obliged by turning a delivery to Watling who caught expertly at short leg.
But Australia dominated much of the day from then on, aside from Arnel's sharp six-over spell of two for 16 early in the final session.
Katich and Michael Hussey, the former Perth junior teammates each celebrating their 50th Test s, added 155 in 55 overs as Vettori rotated six bowlers, even summoning part-timer Mathew Sinclair for his first Test over in nine years.
Katich had perished for 88 in the first innings, his fifth score of between 80 and 99 in his past 12 innings this season.
This time he was largely untroubled as his unorthodox style again frustrated the home bowlers. He got through the danger zone and punched Chris Martin through the covers for his 10th Test century, in 323 minutes off 262 balls.
Arnel finally struck with the second new ball in almost identical fashion, both left-handers prodding forward and edging to gloveman Brendon McCullum [ Images ].
Hussey went first, for 67 in 207 minutes, then Katich followed nine balls later as New Zealand sniffed a chance at 247 for four, a lead of 214.
But with Martin struggling for rhythm and Southee not as sharp later in the day, Clarke and North resumed their happy union from Wellington, where they plundered 253 for the fifth wicket.