Steve Hansen was left to rue "one bad day" but expressed his pride after his New Zealand reign ended with a 40-17 drubbing of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.
The All Blacks scored six tries in an entertaining third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday after a week of licking their wounds following a semi-final defeat to England.
Ben Smith claimed a first-half double and had another try ruled out in his final Test, while Ryan Crotty likewise touched down in his New Zealand swansong.
Captain Kieran Read was also among several All Blacks playing their last internationals at the end of Hansen's glorious reign, and the head coach was impressed with the character shown by his side six days after they were dethroned.
"It was just important we came back and honoured the jersey and our fans and get over the disappointment of last week." said Hansen, who has spent 15 years on the New Zealand coaching staff.
"It was a tough old game for both sides and I want to congratulate Wales because they'll be feeling a little bad at the moment.
"All tournament, we've had great defence and played pretty good footy all the way through. One bad day, you lose a game and you miss out, that is what knockout football is about. But I'm really proud of the boys today."
Man of the match Brodie Retallick said the two-time defending champions were desperate to sign off by showing what they are capable of.
"After last week, we wanted to come back and put on a performance we could be proud of and, for all of our supporters, we're thankful to come out with the win." said the lock.
"We had to use that as motivation to come and do what we did tonight. It took a great effort and I'm really proud of what we did tonight."