The vice-captain’s eventual dismissal, caught for 163, left the home side 2-311.
The visitors had been billed as the best NZ side to tour Australia since 1985, when the Black Caps recorded their only Test series win across the Tasman.
But the claim was promptly called into question at the Gabba, where Warner shared an opening stand of 161 runs with Joe Burns.
It was the first time Australia started a home summer with a wicketless session since 2001, when Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer belted NZ.
The effort also bettered Hayden and Langer’s 158-run partnership at The Oval in 2001, their first game together at the top of the order.
Burns fell for 71 in the second session but Usman Khawaja scored freely and quickly to be 30 not out at tea.
It was a formidable first impression from the new-look side, Australia’s most-inexperienced Test outfit to start a home summer since 1987.
Warner needed 141 balls to reach three figures, starting sluggishly compared to his previous 12 Test tons.
Australia’s new vice-captain showed uncharacteristic restraint after Steve Smith won the toss.
Trent Boult and particularly Tim Southee sent down fine new-ball spells in an attritional opening stanza of the three-Test series.
Warner crawled to three off 19 balls then fell flat on his face digging out a magnificent yorker from Boult.
It was the closest the visitors came to breaking the opening partnership in the first session, save for a moment of madness from Burns in his first Test at his home ground.
Burns, who needed 20 deliveries to get off the mark, took off for a single after nudging the ball to Brendon McCullum in the covers.
McCullum collected the leather, turned sharply but couldn’t throw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
Burns settled after the chance on four.
It took a terrific ball from Southee to remove the Queenslander, with keeper BJ Watling moving well to take the edge.
It is the third straight year Warner has posted a century in the first Test of the Australian summer.
The 29-year-old, who recovered from a broken thumb to take his place in the XI, brought up his half-century with an all-run four.
Warner survived a review on 39 but it was a sign of McCullum’s desperation more than anything else.
Replays confirmed the ball clearly pitched outside leg, the Black Caps walking back to their fielding posts before third umpire S Ravi had a chance to use ball-tracking technology.
The first-day script supported NZ captain Brendon McCullum’s pre-match prognosis of a pitch favouring the batsman.
Ever since Nasser Hussain sent Australia in at the Gabba in 2002 the idea of opting to field at the venue has become almost taboo.
While both sides boast star-studded pace attacks, McCullum was in no doubt about what would happen when he and Smith donned the blazers to start the three-Test series starts in Brisbane.
“You win the toss and bat first. That seems the way it’s done over here,” McCullum said in his pre-match press conference.
“It looks a good wicket. The groundsman knows how to prepare a good wicket. I think both teams will be looking to bat first.”
Smith wasn’t quite as obliging when asked the same question on Wednesday.
“I will wait and see and have a look at the Gabba tomorrow,” Smith said.
“I think it will be a similar wicket to the one we had here last year.”
That match was Smith’s first as stand-in skipper, India opting to bat first and managing a total of 408.
Smith scored 133 in reply and Australia went on to record a four-wicket win on day four.
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