Alviro Peterson, who struggled for runs in the first two Tests, found the Basin Reserve pitch in Wellington to his liking as he moved to 96 not out and closed in on his third Test century, while JP Duminy was on 76.
The pair had put on 140 for the third wicket when bad light stopped play for the second consecutive day with only 79 of a possible 180 overs bowled in the first two days.
South Africa, who already have an unbeatable 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, were clearly intent on batting their way to an imposing total with the aim of dismissing New Zealand cheaply and enforcing the follow on.
The tourists resumed the second day at 136-2 and put on 110 runs without loss in the 37 overs available after rain wiped out the morning session.
The New Zealand bowlers have been unable to benefit from the favourable fierce wind, overcast skies and a green-tinged wicket and the fielders were incapable of taking the few chances on offer as the batsmen dominated.
Petersen offered two edges through the vacant third slip position but Martin Guptill, diving from second slip, was unable to grasp either one.
Otherwise Petersen looked comfortable with senior bowler Chris Martin unable to generate significant swing or garner extreme pace from the tail wind.
Duminy had little trouble finding gaps in the New Zealand field, although he brought up his fourth half-century with a wayward shot that that was intended for square leg but went behind wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk.
The only bad news for South Africa was the likelihood they have lost key batsman Hashim Amla for the rest of the match after undergoing emergency surgery on his groin area.
Amla was hit on the first day by an inside edge from a Martin delivery. He was able to bat on and progressed from 33 to 63 before he was dismissed and then rushed to hospital.
“Hashim underwent emergency exploratory surgery resulting from blunt trauma sustained to his groin region,” team manager Mohammed Moosajee said in a statement.
“He spent the night in hospital and was discharged this morning. The surgeon is satisfied with the outcome and expects Hashim to make a full recovery.
“However, it is unlikely that he will be able to take further part in the current Test match at the Basin Reserve.”
South Africa are without star all-rounder Jacques Kallis for this Test after he was ruled out with a stiff neck.
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