Two time winner Lisa Carrington has easily won her heat of the K1 200m kayak event to advance to Tuesday's semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Carrington is chasing an unprecedented four gold medals also contesting the K1 500, K2 500 and K4 500 events.
She also advanced directly to the semifinals of the K2 500 with Caitlin Regal after they comfortably won their heat.
Carrington told Sky that it had been reassuring to deliver a solid performance in the international arena at last.
"The nerves are still the same - it's been two years since we raced internationally so it was exciting to be out there," she said.
"I really wanted to know how the rest of the world was tracking, so it was cool to do just do what we did today."
Regal said the heat win was a good start, but she was confident there was more in the tank.
"We wanted to go out and show everyone the work we'd done. This is just the beginning for us - it's not unexpected, we've put in the hard yards and now it's about putting it all together."
However, fellow New Zealanders Alicia Hoskin and Teneale Hatton finished a distant fourth in their K2 500 heat and will have to contest the quarterfinals.
Carrington won gold in the women's kayak single 200m at London 2012 and Rio 2016, and could become the second athlete to win three gold medals in an individual canoe sprint event after Sweden's Gert Fredrikson who won three gold medals in the men's canoe 1000m between 1948 and 1956.
Carrington is also hoping to become the first woman representing New Zealand to win at least three Olympic Games gold medals in any sport.
Carrington said after her K1 200m heat she wasn't focused on winning a hat-trick of medals in the event.
"I probably don't look at it like that. I just want to go out there and perform my best. We have been doing a lot of hard work in the last five years, so I just want to show the world what I can do and what we can do as a team."
She may will be the last K1 200m Olympic champion with the event being taken off the Paris 2024 schedule.
"It is such an awesome event that it is such a shame that it is leaving the Olympics. I am so privileged and fortunate to have done it."