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The Brendan McCullum-led Kiwis stumbled to 45 at Newlands - New Zealand's third-lowest test score - and faced only 19.2 overs - the shortest completed innings in the side's history.
ESPN's Cricinfo described the Kiwis' batting against the world number one test team as "clueless".
"New Zealand were expected to be overwhelmed. They were expected to struggle. They were expected to get taught a thing or two. But they were not expected to be this bad," Firdose Moonda wrote.
"They were not expected to stand at the crease with their legs only as good as painted on. They were not expected to hang their bats out to dry. They were not expected to field as though their souls had left their bodies and as though there were no soles at the bottom of their feet either."
Cricinfo also rubbed it in on Twitter.
"New Zealand 27/4. Ryder and Taylor to the rescue then? Oh."
South Africa's Mail and Guardian were much kinder, with reporter Nickolas Bauer focusing on the efforts of quick-bowler Vernon Philander and the fact the Kiwis were without the injured Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee.
"It was always going to be a tough encounter for New Zealand, going up against the world's number one ranked team in Test cricket, while they languish in eighth spot in the standings."
The New Zealand Herald's own David Leggat, who is in South Africa for the match, described the performance as the "worst these eyes have witnessed".
"South African officials were fretting over whether New Zealand would be truly competitive, thinking in financial return terms over the scheduled last two days of the match.
"Their worst fears were realised."
Black Caps fans on Twitter found humour the best way to cope with the batting shambles.
"This chap named "Extras" got the third highest score (7) in this innings. Can he be the new captain? #SAvNZ #BlackCraps," Ross Stanley wrote.
Former Black Cap all-rounder Scott Styris was looking for positives.
"Australia made 47 last year full strength. NZ makes 45 half strength. #moralvictory?"
Another former Black Cap Lou Vincent was also optimistic.
"If we pick up 7 wickets before lunch then we are right back in this."
Others were feeling the pain.
"#blackcaps fans in our house are retired hurt this morning," @esoap said.
The Manawatu Standard's editor pointed out a certain Aussie cricketer was reported to be able to drink more than the Kiwis scored.
"Match referee David Boon drank more cans of beer on a flight to The UK than the #BlackCaps scored runs in the first Innings," Michael Cummings wrote.
Sky's Scotty Stevenson thought the Black Caps should look to the All Black's World Cup saviour Stephen Donald.
"It's time to call Beaver."
Some cricket fans were thinking of the children.
"I'm going to put password lock on SkySports till the end of the #BlackCaps tour. My 9 year old doesn't need exposure to this," Paul Le Comte wrote.
"If you have children watching, send them to bed, this will traumatise them for their cricketing life," Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson suggested.
Not surprisingly, the Aussies couldn't help but have a dig.
"Sad when a side doesnt bat out its 20 overs. even sadder when its a test match," Wide World of Sports commentator Andrew Voss wrote.
"Maybe new zealand have a rotation system with their batting. rather than change test to test, they do it every few overs."
Meanwhile New Zealand's favourite South African comedienne Urzila Carlson was enjoying the Proteas' dominance.
"Boundary! SA needs to tighten this s*** up!" she wrote following one of New Zealand's few fours.
"SA should declare now, keep it interesting," she said shortly into South Africa's reply.