The Highlanders secured their second Super Rugby victory in 2011 when they beat the Chiefs 23-13 in Dunedin on Friday.
The Highlanders are two from two and the Chiefs have yet to score a point on the points table after two matches.
The Highlanders outscored their opponents by two tries to one and will travel to South Africa brimming with confidence although they face a tough three weeks ahead.
Next weekend the Highlanders play the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld and then they travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers before returning home to host the Crusaders in Dunedin.
The Highlanders finished 11th in the last two seasons of Super rugby but have flourished in the new competition.
They had an upset 14-9 win over the Hurricanes in last week's opening round and pulled off a second surprise win Friday for their best start in more than six years.
The Chiefs dominated the first half against a mistake-plagued Highlanders but home side took the upper hand in the second spell as Chiefs lapsed into errors.
No. 8 Nasi Manu and winger Kade Poki scored second-half tries while replacement flyhalf Robbie Robinson stabilized the Highlanders' backline and kicked a penalty and two conversions to help alter the course of the match.
Outstanding matches by back rowers Manu and Adam Thomson set up the win for the Highlanders who repeatedly forced turnovers in the second half, depriving the Chiefs of critical possession and territory.
Manu and Thomson also led counterattacks which resulted in tries, thrilling a crowd of more than 20,000 at the Highlanders' home ground of Carisbrook.
"It's about getting respect back in our jersey. A great crowd turns up, the boys get a win and you've got to cherish it," Highlanders captain Jamie McIntosh said.
The Chiefs had 71 percent of territory before halftime, although the Highlanders enjoyed 57 percent of possession, a mark of how often the home side gave up the ball.
The tables turned in the second half and a vigorous forward performance by the Highlanders at breakdowns forced turnovers and set the scene for their comeback.
"They were pretty resilient and we struggled to get our hands on the ball in the second half," Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said.
"We gave away penalties which kept us in our 22 and cost us. We had too much turnover ball and they capitalized on it. Before you can look up you're back down your end."
The match opened with a penalty duel between flyhalves Lima Sopoaga for the Highlanders and former All Black Mike Delany for the Chiefs.
Sopoaga missed an early attempt but landed another after five minutes.
Delany replied in the 13th minute, Sopoaga gained the lead four minutes later, then Delany leveled the score for a second time.
Delany went on to score all of the Chief's points, converting his own superb try in the 23rd minute.
Final Score Highlanders 23 Chiefs 13
Tries - Nasi Manu, Kade Poki
Pen - Lima Sopoaga 2, Robbie Robsinson
Con - Robbie Robinson 2
Tries - Mike Delany
Pen - Mike Delany 2
Con - Mike Delany
Cards - Tawera Kerr-Barlow (58thmin) yellow
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistant Ref 1:Vinny Munro
Assistant Ref 2:Sindile Mayende
TMO : Keith Brown
Highlanders: Ben Smith, James Paterson, Kendrick Lynn, Shaun Treeby, Kade Poki, Lima Sopoaga, Jimmy Cowan, Nasi Manu, Alando Soakai, Adam Thomson, Josh Bekhuis, Jarrad Hoeata, David Te Moana, Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh (captain).
Reserves: Mahroni Schwalger, Bronson Murray, Joe Tuineau, John Hardie, Aaron Smith, Robbie Robinson, Siale Piutau.
Chiefs: Mils Muliaina (captain), Lelia Masaga, Jackson Willison, Dwayne Sweeney, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mike Delany, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Scott Waldrom, Isaac Ross, Hayden Triggs, Nathan White, Aled de Malmanche, Toby Smith.
Reserves: Ben May, Daniel Perrin, Culum Retallick, Steven Setephano, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Tim Nanai-Williams.