The Silver Ferns shrugged off a slow start to draw first blood in the two-Test series against arch-rivals Australia.
They won 46-41 in Melbourne on the back of an inspired effort from the second quarter onwards.
At one stage early on the Ferns trailed by as many as eight goals.
Both teams were without experienced players.
The Australians took the court without shooters Catherine Cox and Sharelle McMahon, while the Silver Ferns were without veteran mid-courter Julie Seymour, and defender, Leana de Bruin.
The second Test will be played in Brisbane next Sunday.