New Zealand opened the Tri Nations with a dominant bonus-point victory over reigning champions South Africa at Eden Park.

The All Blacks lost all three of their matches against the Springboks in last year's tournament, but were always in control after first-half tries from Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu.

The visitors never threatened the home try line and succumbed meekly in the end as a late Tony Woodcock try ensured the hosts maximum points after Kieran Read also crossed over.

All of South Africa's points came from the boot of Morne Steyn, but without a further scoring threat Peter de Villiers' side have plenty of work to do ahead of their return meeting in Wellington next weekend.

The Springboks were looking for their first win in Auckland for 73 years and were in front after seven minutes with a Steyn penalty in front of the posts.

It was all one-way traffic for the remainder of the half, however, as the All Blacks completely outmuscled the visitors.

After a sustained period of pressure, initiated by a Richie McCaw break, a back-pedalling Springbok defence finally broke when Bakkies Botha prevented Keven Mealamu from releasing after his burrowing run to inches from the line.

Referee Alan Lewis had no hesitation in sending the lock to the sin bin and after Dan Carter stroked over the 13th-minute penalty, the All Blacks quickly made their one-man advantage count with the game's opening try following a stunning counter-attack.

Ricky Januarie looked to test the All Blacks defence under the high kick but it back-fired as Mils Muliaina was given far too much time to compose a piercing counter through the middle.

When he finally did attract a defender McCaw was on hand for the lay off before the skipper turned the ball wide for Smith to dive over in the corner.

Carter added the extras and his second penalty, just after Botha's return, made it 13-3 just before the half hour.

The Springboks briefly threatened but Steyn held on too long with Bryan Habana well placed and their best opportunity of the opening period was lost.

The visitors were losing the physical battle and it was no surprise when Nonu barged through some feeble defending to storm over from close range four minutes before the interval.

Carter knocked over the conversion to give his side a commanding 20-3 half-time lead.

The Springboks needed early points to give themselves any hope and duly delivered with Steyn kicking a pair of penalties inside the opening 10 minutes.

The All Blacks had offered little as an attacking force in the second period, but their ruthless streak was evident when Read barged over for just his second Test try in the 58th minute.

South Africa replied with another Steyn penalty straight from the re-start, but without an attacking threat they were left trying to avoid conceding a bonus point.

In the end they could not even do that as more scrum pressure set up Woodcock to touch down in the last minute.