At 3-under-par, the 1999 U.S. Amateur champion is two shots off the first-round lead at The Grange Golf Club in Auckland, held by Aussies Scott Hend and Paul Sheehan.
Tasmanian Nathan Gatehouse and Kiwi David Smail share third place at 4-under, while Gossett stands in a four-way tie for fifth with Craig Jones, Steve Alker and Ryan Reid.
Sixty-four-year-old Bob Charles is tied for ninth. The native New Zealander, who first won this title as an amateur in 1954, carded four birdies coming home to record a 2-under-par 68. Charles is seeking his fifth career New Zealand Open championship.
Gossett is in his first full professional season. The 21-year-old Texan is exempt on the 2001 Buy.com Tour. However, that season doesn't begin until March, which gives Gossett a chance to tune his game Down Under.
Gossett birdied four of his first eight holes on Thursday for an outward 31. The only blemish on his card came courtesy of a bogey at the par-4 13th.
Defending champion Michael Campbell is six shots off the pace, opening in 1-over-par 71.