Bahrain suffered World Cup heartbreak when Sayed Adnan's saved penalty denied them a first appearance at the finals – and sent New Zealand through to South Africa 2010.
|Captain Nelsen tries to get his head round New Zealand's trip to South Africa [AFP]
Rory Fallon scored a first-half header as the All Whites secured a 1-0 win in their Asia/Oceania playoff second leg following a 0-0 draw in Manama last month.
New Zealand, champions of the Oceania zone, had their only previous World Cup appearance in Spain in 1982.
Fallon, whose father Kevin was assistant manager of the 1982 side, sealed their ticket to next year's finals in South Africa when he powered home Leo Bertos' corner in the final minute of the first half at a sold-out Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Bahrain needed only a score draw to qualify and were celebrating in front of their small group of vocal fans when Abdulla Omar was brought down in the box by Tony Lochhead for a penalty.
However, Adnan's weak effort was easily saved by Paston to the delight of most of Saturday's 35,194 crowd.
New Zealand's Shane Smeltz had an opportunity to kill the game off in the 70th minute when he was put through by Bertos, but his deft flick went just wide.
Fallon had another chance 10 minutes later as New Zealand caught Bahrain on the break but his shot was blocked by the defence, while substitute Chris Wood and Smeltz also had half chances in injury time.
New Zealand were led superbly by captain Ryan Nelsen in the centre of defence while Jaycee John looked the most dangerous for the visitors, his snap shot from the edge of the box producing a superb save by Paston in the 31st minute.