Australia have four points after three games, above South Africa, who are propping up the table without a single point from the championship.

The victory over Australia also saw New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup, a prize that All Black coach Graham Henry said was more important than the Tri-Nations.

"From our point of view its about the Bledisloe Cup," Henry told reporters. "It's a big trophy for New Zealand rugby and the boys value it highly.

They're delighted. It was a big test match to secure that Cup and it was a major plus."

The Bledisloe Cup is contested annually between the two countries and gives an added edge to already tense Tri-Nations matches. 

The first half of the match was played at a frenetic pace that the second half failed to match, with the fluid, attacking style of play that has charaterised the All Blacks' recent performances breaking down into a solid, if dour, defensive display.

The Wallabies dominated possession but could not break through New Zealand's lines. A sole Dan Carter penalty in the second half cemented a victory that will be remembered in New Zealand more for its significance than its quality.