New Zealand's only other appearance in a World Cup finals was in 1982
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert described his team's 1-1 draw with Slovakia as the greatest result in the country's football history.
The Kiwis earned their first point at a World Cup when Winston Reid headed home a dramatic injury-time equaliser.
"We are very, very proud. You would have to say this is our best ever result," said Herbert.
"We have come and thrown some extremely good punches and got what I thought was a fully deserved result."
Slovakia were on course for a perfect start in their debut World Cup as an independent nation after Robert Vittek's 50th-minute header.
But Vladimir Weiss's side paid for sitting back on their lead when, in the third minute of injury time, Reid rose to head home Shane Smeltz's left-wing cross.
"It's a special night for me, I couldn't be any prouder," added Herbert, whose side play Italy on Sunday.
"I thought the opening game was a good chance to get something and I would have been disappointed with a loss after conceding a goal like that. But we kept coming, the boys kept coming.
"We came across with the intention to make a difference and we certainly did that against a highly rated team."
All four teams in Group F now have a point each as Italy drew 1-1 with Paraguay on Monday.
Perhaps more importantly for the Kiwis, though, it breaks their World Cup duck.
New Zealand's only other appearance in a World Cup finals was in 1982 when they lost to Scotland (5-2), Soviet Union (3-0) and Brazil (4-0).
"We still have two heavyweights to go and they will be tough. I think we showed the kind of football we play now is conducive to results," stated Herbert.
"Some of the quality of the movement up front could be better and we'll work on that."
Goalscorer Reid, who was booked for taking off his shirt amid wild celebrations, described scoring the equaliser as "awesome".
"The first thing I did was look at the linesman to see if I was offside and after that it was great. We had just decided to stay up there and hope for the best," said Reid.
"Look at the smiles of the players and staff and that tells you everything. We're at the biggest stage of football and it's great to be here."