Toss: New Zealand.
At last, the weather relented, the pitch had something in it for batsman and bowler, and the teams could show their true qualities. The first two Tests had been rendered meaningless but, for five summery Wellington days, South Africa now emphasised what everyone suspected: they were a much stronger, more professional side than New Zealand.
Nash won his third toss, and rightly decided to bat. But the South African attack, even though Donald was out through injury, soon had the game under control. Donald's replacement, Elworthy, playing only his second Test, slotted perfectly into the South African battle-plan on a surface where his lesser pace could be highly effective.
New Zealand were soon 58 for four, but a stout 145-run partnership by two Canterbury men, Harris and Stead, also in his second Test, gave the innings a healthier glow at 203 for four. Elworthy took his third and fourth wickets in quick succession as New Zealand went to stumps at 211 for six, Harris battling on for 66 not out. But again the fragile nature of the batting was shown up, this time by Pollock, who snared the final four batsmen for four runs; New Zealand's last six wickets fell for 19.
Gibbs picked up at Wellington where he had left off at Christchurch, putting on 73 with Kirsten and then cruising to another century. A stiff headwind and slightly worn pitch gave left-arm spinner Vettori his first chance to fight on level terms. He finished Gibbs for 120 but had a marathon struggle against South Africa's famously deep batting line-up. Cullinan had taken the score past 400 before he was out for 152 - but Vettori kept nagging away and ended with four for 153 from 54 overs. Cronje, learning his lesson from Christchurch, closed the innings at 498 for eight at the start of the fourth day.
Again the sharp South African new-ball attack had quick success - Elworthy and Pollock reduced New Zealand to 35 for three - and again Stead kept his cool. Astle and Harris also resisted, but with the seam attack probing for mistakes there was no escape for New Zealand this time. They started 276 behind and were 217 for seven on the fourth evening. After Doull had avoided an innings defeat with a Test-best 38 from 33 balls, Adams finished off the tail.
There was a little untidy work as the South Africans collected the 16 runs for victory with more than four hours to spare, but no one seemed to mind. After so much frustration, spectators, had seen an accomplished side playing close to its full potential - and it was clear New Zealand still had much catching up to do.
Man of the Match: S. Elworthy.
Close of play: First day, New Zealand 211-6 (Harris 66*, Parore 0*); Second day, South Africa 235-2 (Gibbs 115*, Cullinan 56*); Third day, South Africa 498-8 (Pollock 43*, Elworthy 3*); Fourth day, New Zealand 217-7 (Nash 4*, Vettori 12*).