The visitors were bowled out for 282 having been set 405 runs to win and while they were always chasing the game from day one, they made it difficult for Brendon McCullum’s side.
Having put 431 on the board after being sent in to bat, New Zealand needed 117 overs to bowl Sri Lanka out for 294 in their first innings, and were in the 96th over of the tourists’ second innings before seamer Doug Bracewell took a caught and bowled from Suranga Lakmal to end the game.
“It was a pretty professional display but gee, we had to work pretty hard as well to get 20 wickets,” McCullum said in a televised interview.
“I think the bowlers did an outstanding job.
“Obviously when you don’t bowl first on a wicket like that, it’s going to be tough,” he added of the green-tinged wicket presented last Thursday.
“But the guys batted well, so over all a pretty professional performance and one we’re pleased with.”
Sri Lanka were 224-6 at the lunch break on Monday before paceman Boult grabbed both Rangana Herath (six) and Milinda Sarawardana (29) in the first 20 minutes of the middle session.
Spin-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner bowled Dushmantha Chameera for 14 and Lakmal belted four boundaries in his 23 before hitting the ball straight back to Bracewell.
“I thought we fought really hard,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.
“We showed a lot of guts, especially the bowlers in the way they batted in both innings but unfortunately we couldn’t hang in there.”
The match swung sharply in New Zealand’s favour when Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal both suffered brain explosions at the crease during the extended first session.
The pair had looked comfortable on the benign pitch but both were out in quick succession for failing to offer shots.
Mathews was first to go, bowled for 25 by Neil Wagner, before Chandimal was trapped lbw for 58 by Santner.
The pair, who had put on 56 runs, were both dismissed with the score on 165, and that ultimately proved the beginning of the end despite some lusty blows from the tail.
“There is always a little bit of concern and you have to pretend that you have things under control,” McCullum said with a grin.
“It was more a case of getting the two big Sri Lankan wickets, Angelo and Dinesh, then once we were able to do that then we were able to get a bit of momentum.”
The second match of the two-test series starts at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Dec. 18.