The Sri Lankan cricketers struggled on the first day of their two-day match against a New Zealand Chairman's XI in Queenstown.
After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, the tourists made 173 for nine, while the locals finished the day on 37 for three.
Lahiru Thirimanne top-scored for the visitors with 50.
Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews managed one and none respectively.
Canterbury's Ben McCord took three wickets.
The first Test starts in Christchurch on Boxing Day.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka's top one-day bowler Lasith Malinga will return to the side in the latter part of the one-day series against New Zealand.
Malinga is recovering from ankle surgery.