Kyle Verreynne cracked an unbeaten 136 as South Africa declared their second innings at 354 for nine in the second Test in Christchurch on Monday, setting New Zealand a record 426 to win.
The highest fourth-innings chase to win a Test was 418 by the West Indies against Australia in 2003.
The 24-year-old Verreynne’s first Test century put South Africa in a strong position to draw the two-match series after losing the first Test by an innings and 276 runs.
No other South African reached fifty although Kagiso Rabada made a rapid 47 in a 34-ball cameo which included four fours and four sixes.
His whirlwind performance forced Tim Southee out of the attack after New Zealand’s senior bowler had delivered only three overs with the second new ball for 34 runs.
South Africa began the day at 140 for five with Verreynne on 22, Wiann Mulder on 10 and New Zealand still very much in contention.
But the home side, who have dominated at Hagley Oval in its 11-Test history, could not contain the South African pair who made the most of a benign wicket in a 78-run stand.
It was a no ball from Kyle Jamieson that eventually led to the end of the sixth-wicket partnership.
The tall New Zealander overstepped with the last ball of his 13th over and the extra delivery was edged by Mulder, who had made 35, to a diving Tom Blundell behind the stumps.
Marco Jansen added nine to the score before he fell to a sensational one-handed catch by Will Young racing around the boundary from deep midwicket.
After Rabada’s whirlwind knock, Keshav Maharaj joined Verreynne in the middle and held up one end while the wicketkeeper-batsman continued to accumulate runs.
Verreynne brought up his maiden Test hundred by whipping Matt Henry to the fine leg boundary and punched the air in delight.
By the time the innings closed, he had faced 187 deliveries and hit 16 fours and one six.
For New Zealand, Tom Southee, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jameson each took two wickets.
An early tea was taken at the end of the innings leaving New Zealand nearly three hours of batting time before stumps.