Mark Wood praised the role played by Jonny Bairstow in making batting "fun" as the pair staged a significant fightback for England on the opening day in Christchurch.

Wood, recalled for this match in place of Craig Overton, joined Bairstow with England tottering on 164 for 7 with seemingly a longer tail having also dropped Chris Woakes. He proceeded to make his maiden Test fifty, dominating an eighth-wicket stand of 95 in 18 overs which, at the very least, have given England a foothold in a match that appeared to be slipping away.

"I had loads of fun but the worrying thing is I've got a fifty before a five-for, so I've done that the wrong way round," he said. "I loved batting with Jonny, a lad I've played with and against since I was about 11 years old. So nice to do it with him at the other end.

"When I went out to bat we were in a bit of trouble. Jonny knows I like to have a bit of fun out there, so it made it easier - just having a laugh and seeing how it goes. It just put my mind at ease and you forget the situation you are in."

Wood's first-class average of 21.10 shows he has some ability and he has previously given glimpses in his short Test career, but after this innings, he has made a strong case to be No. 8 ahead of Stuart Broad. However, Wood believes he should already have scored more runs than he has managed and has to remember not to get carried away.

"I worked hard in the nets this week thinking I might play this game. I get to 20 and I think I'm like Bradman, that's the problem, I try too many shots. It was nice having Jonny there, he kept it fun, kept it calm whereas sometimes I think I get a bit ahead of myself and try too much. [Neil] Wagner was bowling a lot of bouncers more often than not I knew where the ball was going to be. Me and Jonny talked about a plan and we could set up. When I first got in, [Tim] Southee had done a lot of the damage and was nipping it around so it was harder."

Wood defended England's top order after another poor display, saying there was significantly more help for the bowlers in the first part of the day.

"Maybe there was panic stations at one point but New Zealand bowled really well this morning…maybe it felt like we just changed the momentum a little bit and brought it back in our favour. We rotated the strike well, that's one of things Jonny does - he runs well between the wickets."

Southee, who finished the day with 5 for 60 to move level with Chris Cairns at No. 4 in New Zealand's all-time list on 218 scalps, conceded the day had taken a different turn after the post-lunch spell of 3 for 1 in nine balls by him and Trent Boult.

"That little burst after lunch was good for us with three quick wickets then England dug deep and that partnership was a crucial one for then," he said.

"One thing to come out of it, it shows that once you get in and the ball gets a bit older the wicket is reasonably good. I think it's pretty even, it would have been nice to finish them off this evening but credit has to go to the way the lower [order] of England stuck in. The way that Jonny has played all summer so we know he's a big wicket and a dangerous player which he showed at the end."