Winger Ben Lam scored two of the Hurricanes' four tries on Saturday as they notched a third-straight win and handed the Highlanders their first defeat of the season.
The scores were locked 12-12 entering a final half-hour which the hosts dominated, scoring through a long-range penalty to Jordie Barrett and tries to reserve winger Vince Aso and Lam.
Both tries required expert, diving finishes in the corner from the wide men when tackled by the cover defence, as did Lam's first-half try.
It was the sort of finishing required as two of the competition's most resilient defensive sides went toe-to-toe, with the Hurricanes' ball-in-hand style prevailing against the kick-based Highlanders approach.
It was a fitting way for halfback TJ Perenara to bring up 100 games for the Hurricanes, who have won seven of their last eight Kiwi derby games at home.
A dampener on the win is a possible serious rib injury to All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea, who hobbled out of the game soon before halftime.
The Highlanders, who opened their campaign with three-straight wins in Dunedin, were the only unbeaten team coming into round six.
They crossed once in each half through Test winger Waisake Naholo, with the second showcasing his exceptional pace as he chased a kick ahead.
The result means the Crusaders, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders have all won three matches, with the Kiwi sides all residing in the top six on the overall table standings.