The Highlanders held out the Hurricanes 49-44 in a fast-moving thriller at Wellington to climb off the bottom of the Super Rugby standings.
AAP reports that a roller-coaster 11-try fixture ended with the Highlanders valiantly defending their line to win their third match of the season on Saturday - and first away game - to climb off the bottom of the table.
Up 35-13 soon after halftime and 49-27 with 13 minutes remaining, the visitors should have won comfortably but yellow cards in the second half to halfback Aaron Smith and prop Bronson Murray opened the door for the 11th-placed Hurricanes, who came close to pulling off a spectacular comeback.
Instead, the six-try Highlanders held on to climb three points ahead of the last-placed Southern Kings, who were still to face fellow-South Africans the Stormers in the penultimate round of the regular season.
With both teams out of playoff contention, New Zealand's two lowest-placed teams played as if there was little to lose and capitalised on some porous defence.
The Highlanders scored six tries to the Hurricanes' five.