New Zealand 32 (20)
Tries: Smith, Nonu, Read, Woodcock Cons: Carter (3) Pens: Carter (2)
South Africa 12 (3)
Pens: Steyn (4)
Nonu (pictured) and Muliaina ran the show for New Zealand
New Zealand turned the tables on champions South Africa with a superb victory in the opening match of the Tri-Nations at Eden Park.
Tries from Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Kieran Read and Tony Woodcock helped the All Blacks avoid a fourth loss to the world champions in a year.
South Africa's points came from the boot of Morne Steyn in what was a lacklustre performance from them.
Lock Bakkies Botha was sin-binned for slowing play early in match.
That happened in the 11th minute which led to Dan Carter kicking the first of his 12 points for New Zealand.
However, Botha, nicknamed "The Enforcer", was lucky to escape punishment as early as the second minute when he followed up his tackle on Jimmy Cowan by head-butting the back of his opponent's head.
Prior to Botha's yellow card, the Springboks appeared to have settled quickly into their routine with Steyn putting three points on the board with an early penalty after Carter had missed an early attempt.
But Carter made no mistake when presented with a chance to level the scores after the visitors were reduced to 14 men.
The All Blacks then took full advantage of the situation. Full-back Mils Muliaina, who dictated New Zealand's attack, picked up a poor kick from Ricky Januarie and advanced 30m with a superb run through the defence.
He found the supporting Richie McCaw who delayed his pass perfectly for Smith, who went over in the corner. Carter converted to give the home side a 10-3 lead.
A further penalty from the Canterbury and Crusaders player followed before Nonu piled more misery on the Springboks.
Nonu's grubber kick was poorly executed but bounced back in his path and he offloaded to speed-merchant Joe Rokocoko, who took up the running on the left.
Rokocoko then came inside before finding centre Nonu who powered over.
Carter's conversion put his side 20-3 ahead at half-time and the Springboks were left scratching their heads.
But after the interval, the world champions and defending Tri-Nations champions pegged the All Blacks back.
After two penalties from the boot of Steyn in six minutes, the second bringing up his 200th point for the Springboks, it appeared a fightback was on the cards.
But the All Blacks were determined to avoid a fourth defeat to South Africa in a year and their first loss at Eden Park since 1994.
Lock Tom Donnelly managed to get over the advantage line before Muliaina found 6ft 4in number eight Read, who brushed off the challenge of Januarie for his second Test try.
Carter made it 27-9 with the conversion before Steyn kicked his fourth penalty to reduce the deficit.
But the fact that South Africa's points came from the boot told the story of their stilted performance, which saw the forwards second best in the ruck and line-out, and the backs lacking zest.
The final say went to loose-head prop Woodcock, who surged over from a metre out.
New Zealand: Muliaina, Jane, Smith, Nonu, Rokocoko, Carter, Cowan; Woodcock, Mealamu, O Franks, Thorn, Donnelly, Kaino, McCaw (capt), Read.
Replacements: Kahui for Rokocoko (58), Weepu for Cowan (54), Flynn for Mealamu (78), B. Franks for O. Franks (64), Whitelock for Donnelly (72), Messam for Kaino (72). Not Used: Cruden.
South Africa: Kirchner, De Villiers, Fourie, Olivier, Habana, Steyn, Januarie; Steenkamp, Smit (capt), Du Plessis, Botha, Matfield, Burger, Louw, Spies.
Replacements: James for Steyn (72), Pienaar for Januarie (75), Ralepelle for Smit (72), B. Botha for du Plessis (59), Bekker for Louw (52). Not Used: Rossouw, Aplon.
Sin Bin: B. Botha (13).
Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)