The White Ferns have let a strong position slip to lose the opening T20 against Australia by 17 runs.
Chasing 139 to win in Brisbane on Saturday, New Zealand managed just 121-7 from their 20 overs as the hosts took the early advantage in the three-match series.
It proved an opportunity lost for the visitors, with an expensive finish to their bowling performance giving Australia a total which was too much for a White Ferns batting effort which never really found momentum.
Having spent two weeks in managed isolation, New Zealand started the first match of the tour well.
Captain Sophie Devine led the way, her three wickets helping reduce the Southern Stars to 83-5 on a two-paced Allan Border Field pitch.
But it was Ash Gardner who responded for the home side in the latter stages of the innings, the middle-order player finding and clearing the boundary on multiple occasions before eventually falling for a crucial 61 off just 41 balls.
Gardner's hitting meant Australia were able to reach 138-6, giving the White Ferns a much trickier chase than it looked they might have.
New Zealand made a steady start, before a key moment arrived with the controversial dismissal of Devine in the ninth over.
Having reached 29, the Kiwi skipper was given out stumped by the third umpire in what was a very close call where replays suggested her foot had been grounded in time.
The experience of Suzie Bates remained, but from there the required run-rate continued to climb.
Bates' dismissal, for 33 off 38, in the over 18 effectively spelt the end of the White Ferns hopes, Australia comfortably going on to secure the 1-0 series lead ahead of Sunday's second match at the same venue.