The top run-scorer
and the only one to score more than one hundred, Kane Williamson capped off his first season as captain with a typically fine showing with the bat. He led from the front with two classy centuries, which deserved more than the draws they were part of. In Dunedin
, Williamson's knock ensured New Zealand did not have cause to panic after Ross Taylor retired hurt and helped set them up to take a slender lead. In Hamilton
, his 170 allowed him to equal Martin Crowe's 17 Test centuries and become the youngest New Zealand player to 5,000 Test runs. His Hamilton hundred was chanceless and dominant, he paced the innings perfectly and set his team up to push for victory. Although he cannot find himself on the winning side of a coin toss and his DRS skills need work, as a leader Williamson shows great promise.
Three matches, 256 runs at 64.00, three fifties
New Zealand needed someone who could be tighter outside the offstump than Martin Guptill; Jeet Raval has provided that. His solid technique is his greatest asset and it served him well against a South African attack who can exploit even the smallest weaknesses. He scored half-centuries in all three matches - in Dunedin and Wellington
after Tom Latham had departed early - and shared in crucial partnerships with Kane Williamson in Dunedin and Hamilton and with Henry Nicholls in Wellington. His 88 was the third-highest score
by a New Zealand opener against South Africa and though he will be disappointed he was not able to push on to a maiden century, he completed an impressive Test summer.
New Zealand's highest wicket-taker and the series' most successful seamer
had to take on the additional responsibility of bowling in an attack without Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Wagner had only played one Test in which both of them had not featured in the XI and that was on debut in 2012, but he accepted the embraced the challenge and led the attack. As expected, Wagner was indefatigable in his use of the short ball but also showed some variation. One of the fuller deliveries he dished out took out Hashim Amla's middle stump in Dunedin. New Zealand have come to depend on him to make things happen and in every match, he delivered.
On the face of it, Colin de Grandhomme should not be very dangerous; he bowls in the late 120s. But he troubled South Africa with the quality of the questions he asked with full deliveries outside the off stump. He got three gifts in the first innings in Wellington, a reward for a disciplined start when asked to open the bowling, and he was kept in the role for Hamilton where he enjoyed more success. His batting was the bonus New Zealand wanted; in Hamilton, he scored his maiden half-century and upped the scoring rate at the right time to put New Zealand in their best position of the series - and edge ahead of Neesham as their premier allrounder.
Having waited for an opportunity behind Tim Southee and Trent Boult, Matt Henry took his chance and set the tone with the new ball in Hamilton. He removed two of South Africa's top four early on and showed the same intent in the second innings. Henry was effective with both short and full deliveries, and deepened the collapse when he got rid of Temba Bavuma in the second innings to leave South Africa with just one recognised batsmen left in a bid to stave off defeat.
Three matches, 137 runs at 34.25, one fifty, 10 catches
A man with an appetite for a fight, BJ Watling gives New Zealand lower-order muscle which was most evident in Dunedin. His fifty there and partnership with Kane Williamson allowed New Zealand to take the lead. He also played determined knocks in Wellington and Hamilton. He often runs out of support, though, and there are continued calls for him to bat higher up, which would be difficult given his wicketkeeping responsibilities.
With pressure over his place at No. 5 growing, Henry Nicholls came into this series needing runs to prove himself and he got them in Wellington. His hundred came a time New Zealand needed it most - they were 101 for 5 and without Ross Taylor in the first innings - and allowed them to mount a challenge. He did not have any other scores of significance and was twice out in single figures, which makes consistency his next challenge.
An unexpected pick, Jeetan Patel's comeback was prompted by New Zealand's decision to play on slower surfaces to negate South Africa's quicks - that necessitated two specialist spinners in Dunedin and Hamilton. Initially, he operated as Quinton de Kock's nemesis and dismissed him twice in the first Test after also getting rid of him in the fourth and fifth ODI, but de Kock did not remain his bunny for too long. Patel continued to trouble South Africa's batsmen though. More crucially for him, he emerged as New Zealand's first-choice spinner, edging out Mitchell Santner in Wellington.
Trent Boult did the damage early and later on in South Africa's first innings in Dunedin. He got rid of Stephen Cook and then took three wickets with the old ball when he found substantial movement. He was particularly impressive in keeping run-scoring to a minimum with more than a third of his overs being maidens. Boult picked up a groin injury in the second innings, which ruled him out of the rest of series.
Three matches, 74 runs at 18.50, one fifty
After a poor start to the series with 24 runs from his first three innings,Tom Latham returned to form with fifty in Hamilton, where he batted with more patience and composure than he had in the previous two matches. Latham's runs came on the back of an improved performance in the field, where he took a blinder at short leg to dismiss Faf du Plessis on the paddle sweep to redeem himself after a slip-catch clanger in Dunedin. Latham still has work do against the moving ball but can be pleased with his season's work.
He was outperformed in Dunedin by Jeetan Patel and then left out of the Wellington Test but Mitchell Santner came back fairly strongly in Hamilton. The three and a quarter hours he spent at the crease only yielded 41 runs but came at a crucial time for New Zealand. Kane Williamson was holding court and needed support, which Santner provided, to build the lead. His credentials as an allrounder are growing, though he would have wanted a few more wickets to his name.
Left out in Dunedin to accommodate two specialist spinners, Tim Southee may have gone to Wellington itching to prove his worth but he only picked up three wickets. He picked up the bulk of the workload in the first innings and proved threatening upfront but did not get the rewards he would have been after. A hamstring injury kept him out of the Hamilton match.
Called up because of his experience in first-class cricket, Neil Broom was tasked with batting in Ross Taylor's No. 4 spot and did not have an easy time of it. He was on the receiving end of two fantastic deliveries in Wellington and then shouldered arms to Kagiso Rabada in Hamilton to end the series with not much to show and questions over whether he has a future as a Test cricketer.
Picked as the allrounder in Dunedin ahead of Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham only bowled 13 overs in the match and was dismissed for seven. He returned for Wellington but failed to contribute as much as New Zealand would have wanted and was dropped for Hamilton. Neesham needed to hold the middle-order together better and present more threat with the ball but failed to do both.
Ross Taylor tore his calf early in his Dunedin innings and had to retire hurt before he could do any real damage - to himself or South Africa. He returned to bat with the tail to help New Zealand edge ahead but could not take any further part in the series.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent