New Zealand received a stern challenge from Wales in Saturday's opening Test of a three-match series, which was their first game since beating Australia in the World Cup final last October.

Wales led 18-15 at half-time and were 21-18 to the good in the second half, only for the world champions to shift through the gears and claim a victory in a manner that flattered Steve Hansen's men.

Read marked his first game as full-time captain after taking over from the retired Richie McCaw with a try, but - while he expressed pride at leading the All Blacks to triumph - the number eight sees plenty to improve on ahead of next weekend's second Test at Westpac Stadium.

"The boys were pretty eager, but then realised what test match footy is about, you've got to work really hard, and I'm proud of the lads, we dug at it and came out in the second half with a better attitude," Read said.

"We had the confidence, we just had to remind ourselves about what we were going to do out on this field. It's hard work, and it's just putting bodies on the line, which we probably didn't show enough in that first half.

"The boys who came on I think had a big impact in this game. So the bench did really well.

"This is a 23-man game, it's a 32-man game to prepare us for what we do out here on Saturday night. The whole squad's come together pretty well.

"We'll take it, we've got plenty to work on for next week.

"It's certainly a pretty proud moment to run out in front of the boys. But it's a good team, we're just building. We'll get back to the drawing board on Monday and we know we've got a big test again down in Wellington."