The All Blacks opened their Tri-Nations title defence with a 40-7 hammering of the injury-ravaged Springboks in Wellington.
New Zealand, favourites to win the World Cup when they host it later this year, fell just four points short of a record Test victory over the South Africans.
They ran in six tries with wingers Cory Jane and Zac Guildford both grabbing a brace while prop Wyatt Crockett and replacement back Colin Slade also crossed.
All Blacks first five Dan Carter added 10 points from two penalties and two conversions to edge back ahead of England's Jonny Wilkinson in the duel for the Test points world record on 1,204.
South Africa, who scored their one try through skipper John Smit, put in an improved performance after being embarrassed by the Wallabies last week but were simply no match for the power and pace of the home side.
With more than 20 frontline players recuperating back in South Africa, the World Cup holders just managed to avoid the ignomy of a worse defeat than the 52-16 drubbing they suffered in 2003.