Azhar Ali led the way with a fighting fifty to help Pakistan recover to 139-3 from a wobbly 17-2 at close on the second day of the third and final Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.
Trent Boult ripped out openers Imam-ul-Haq (9) and Mohammed Hafeez (0), who later announced his retirement from Test cricket.
Azhar was unbeaten on 62 at the end of day two, have added a 54-run fourth-wicket partnership with Asad Shafiq who will resume on 26.
Pakistan are still 135 behind.
Earlier, New Zealand posted 274 in their first innings courtesy a gutsy knock of 77 from wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling. During his five-and-a-half-hour knock in his 56th Test, Watling became the 14th New Zealander to pass 3,000 runs.
Azhar, who scored his third fifty of the series, remains key for Pakistan if they are to build any kind of first innings lead.
The Pakistan top order was jolted by Boult's double strike either side of lunch.
Hafeez has been struggling for form for a while, having made just 66 runs in seven innings since scoring a hundred against Australia in Dubai in October, following his recall to the Test side after a two-year absence.
The 38-year-old, who made his debut against Bangladesh in 2003, announced at the close of play that this Test would be his last.
"I feel time is up," said Hafeez who has scored 3644 runs, with 10 hundreds and 12 half centuries.
In the fourth full over after the break, Imam-ul-Haq took his eye off a Trent bouncer and was hit on the back of the helmet. Next ball, he edged to Southee at third slip and was on his way for just nine.
Azhar then dug in with Haris Sohail, adding 68 for the third wicket before Sohail edged Southee to Watling behind the stumps for 34.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, in his 33rd Test, failed to add to his three wickets on Monday, leaving him two short of becoming the fastest man to reach 200 Test wickets.