The Highlanders became the Southern Kings' first New Zealand victims when they lost 34-27 in Port Elizabeth this morning.
The South African side bounced back from a humiliating home defeat last weekend to the Waratahs, which brutally exposed their inexperience in their maiden year of Super Rugby.
But this morning's victory, set up by outstanding loose-forward play from Luke Watson, Wimpie van der Walt and Cornell du Preez, was a complete turnaround.
Two tries from Watson and further scores by Cornell du Preez and Shaun Venter gave the hosts a try-scoring bonus point, while the Highlanders came away with two points after they also ran in four tries via Colin Slade (two), Brad Thorn and Hosea Gear.
The Highlanders captain Andrew Hore says it was a frustrating loss and they played into the strengths of their opponents by giving them penalties.