New Zealand (17) 20
Tries: Muliaina, Smith Cons: Carter (2) Pens: Carter
Australia (10) 10
Tries: Beale Cons: Giteau Pens: Giteau
Mills Muliaina opened the scoring for New Zealand on five minutes
New Zealand moved closer to a 10th Tri-Nations title after a hard-fought win over Australia in Christchurch.
Mils Muliaina's early try put the All Blacks ahead but Kurtley Beale's solo effort levelled it before Conrad Smith restored the All Blacks' advantage.
Dan Carter's penalty made it 17-10 at the interval before a scoreless third quarter in a tight second half.
Carter's second penalty with nine minutes left sealed New Zealand's ninth consecutive win over the Wallabies.
"There wasn't that much between the sides but clearly the All Blacks are a superior side - they are the number one," acknowledged Australia coach Robbie Deans.
"It was an improvement from us, we built a lot more pressure and possession but they were effective in denying us momentum so we were unable to turn that possession into points."
Australia's last victory over the All Blacks was in July 2008 in Sydney, where they will seek to end their losing run in the final game of this year's tournament on 11 September.
Before that they face the Springboks twice at altitude, in Pretoria and Bloemfontein, but at least they will travel to South Africa on the back of a much-improved performance.
After their 48-29 hammering when the teams met in Melbourne last time out, Australia were keen to get a grip on the game early on.
But the signs looked ominous when Muliaina showed a fine turn of pace to break free up the left wing and round off a fine passing move by going over in the corner.
But New Zealand's lead was short-lived, and Australia's try came about in unlikely circumstances.
The usually reliable Carter lost possession near the Wallabies try-line and on the counter attack, full-back Beale sprinted two-thirds of the field, running at an angle to stretch the New Zealand defence and touch down.
Buoyed by this, Australia took the game to the All Blacks but suffered from poor decision-making at vital moments.
They paid the price for failing to make the most of their pressure when Smith restored New Zealand's lead, going over in the left-hand corner from Ma'a Nonu's despite the suggestion he may have lost control of the ball as he touched down.
Our defence was superb. We stayed on our feet and made our tackles
The second half continued in the same closely-fought vein as the first, with few try-scoring opportunities for either side.
The scoreline remained the same until nine minutes from time, when Carter eased any fears of a late Australian rally by slotting over a long-range penalty to stretch their lead to 10 points.
Victory ensured New Zealand, who recorded their 13th consecutive Test victory, retained the Bledisloe Cup for the seventh straight year.
"It is the most important cup in the cabinet for us, and we are delighted to win it," said coach Graham Henry, whose side were forced to make 110 tackles in the match, missing only five.
"We weren't as sharp as we have been over the last three matches but Australia played really well.
"They were right on the edge but our defence was superb. We stayed on our feet and made our tackles."
New Zealand's failure to secure a bonus point means that mathematically at least, they need another point from their final two matches to reclaim the Tri-Nations title, with South Africa in Johannesburg next up in a fortnight.
New Zealand: M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Rokocoko; D Carter, P Weepu; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Thorn, T Donnelly, J Kaino, R McCaw (captain), K Read.
Replacements: C Flynn, B Franks, S Whitelock, V Vito, A Mathewson, A Cruden, B Stanley.
Australia: K Beale; J O'Connor, A Ashley-Cooper, A Faingaa, D Mitchell; M Giteau, W Genia; B Robinson, S Faingaa, S Ma'afu, D Mumm, N Sharpe, R Elsom (captain), D Pocock, R Brown.
Replacements: S Moore, J Slipper, R Simmons, M Hodgson, L Burgess, B Barnes, C Shepherd.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)