In a rematch of June's final that saw the Blackcaps win the inaugural title, India played host to New Zealand, and will feel in the ascendancy after finishing the first day at 258/4.
Carrying on his brilliant start to test cricket, Kyle Jamieson shone on the opening day, taking three of four Indian wickets to fall with figures of 3/47 from 15.2 overs, backed up by Tim Southee (1/43 from 16.4 overs).
But after reducing India to 145/4 in the day's second session, an unbroken partnership of 113 runs between debutant Shreyas Iyer (75 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (50 not out) swung honours away from New Zealand.
On a dry pitch that took turn from the opening session, the Blackcaps named three spinners, with Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville joined by debutant, Wellington all-rounder Rachin Ravindra, who became New Zealand's youngest test debutant since 2013.
Losing the toss and asked to field first by stand-in Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane, the Blackaps' two seamers began brightly on a wicket expected to favour the spinners.
Jamieson struck in the eighth over, having opener Mayank Agarwal caught behind by Tom Blundell for 13, carrying on his exceptional form against India - against whom he's claimed two man-of-the-match awards in his last two tests.
After the early loss of his opening partner, India's Shubman Gill defied the Blackcaps' new ball pair. The 22-year-old took the attack to New Zealand, hammering an 81-ball half-century, combining in a 61-run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara, of which he'd contributed 46.
Gill batted India safely to lunch without any further loss, before he too fell to Jamieson at the start of the afternoon session. Returning after the break, Gill was beaten by a ball that nipped back off the seam, seeing his stumps re-arranged, and out clean bowled for 52.
But Gill could have and should have been out for much earlier. The right-hander was trapped and hit on the front pad by Patel with his score on six and given not out, only for captain Kane Williamson to opt against an umpire review, with replays showing Gill would have been out,
Pujara battled to 26, before he feathered Southee behind to Blundell for 26, as India slipped from 82/1 to 106/3.
Captain Ajinkya Rahane stopped the fall of wickets, reaching 35 before he was given out caught behind, strangled down leg by Jamieson. A quick umpire review saw Rahane escape with a reprieve - only to fall to the next delivery he faced.
Rahane played back to a full ball from Jamieson, only managing to drag back onto his stumps, becoming the fourth Indian batsman to walk off at 145/4.
As India faced the possibility of being bowled out for less than 300, debutant Iyer stepped up, striking his maiden test half-century at the first time of asking, passing 50 from 94 balls, adding a century partnership with Jadeja.
Not content with celebrating Iyer's milestone, Jadeja too raised his bat, scoring a half-century of his own from 99 balls, with six boundaries.
After ensuring the Blackcaps' spin trio of Patel, Somerville and Ravindra ended day one wicketless, India were spared a new ball burst late in the day, as bad light intervened to stop any late push for wickets from Jamieson and Southee.
With 84 overs bowled, the two on-field umpires declared the light wasn't good enough to continue, calling stumps six overs shy of a full day's quota.
India will by far be the happier of the two sides, and will hope to push their first innings score towards 400, before attempting to dismantle the New Zealand batting line-up in favourable home conditions, waiting to unleash their own spin trio in Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Axar Patel.
The Blackcaps on the other hand will be hunting wickets early on day two, in the hope of restricting India to as low a first innings score as possible before they go out to bat.
Join Newshub from 5pm Friday for live updates of the first test between the Blackcaps and India.