Australia needs only to draw the second Test against New Zealand to assume the No.1 world ranking - and pocket a $A1.4 million bonus.
The Aussies are poised to overtake India as the world's top long-format team after thrashing the Black Caps by an innings and 52 runs at Wellington's Basin Reserve with a day and a half to spare.
The second Test is expected to go ahead at Hagley Oval in Christchurch from Saturday despite a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hitting the city on Sunday, with no apparent damage to the venue.
New Zealand was bowled out for 327 in its second innings in reply to Australia's mammoth 562, after the hosts had crumbled for just 183 in their first. The loss ended a record-equalling run of 13 Tests unbeaten on home soil.
Australian skipper Steve Smith said winning the toss and bowling had been crucial to the outcome. "We exploited the conditions well on that first morning," he said. "We hit good areas and then I think we battled quite hard with the bat."
The Black Caps resumed at 4-178 on day four before off-spinner Nathan Lyon (4-91) and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh (3-73) cleaned up.
Not surprisingly, Aussie batsman Adam Voges won the man-of-the-match honours for his marathon 239 that took more than eight hours.
He should, of course, have been out for seven in the final over of day one after shouldering arms to a Doug Bracewell delivery which crashed into his off stump. But Bracewell was incorrectly ruled to have over-stepped by the umpire, and was called for a no-ball.
New Zealand wickets fell regularly yesterday, but No.9 Mark Craig showed some tail-end resistance to finish unbeaten on 33 from 64 balls.
He combined for a 59-run partnership with Tim Southee for the ninth wicket, Southee blazing 48 from just 23 balls.
The paceman smashed five fours and three sixes before holing out to Usman Khawaja in the deep off Lyon, who finished with seven wickets for the match.
Southee has accumulated 58 sixes from just 47 Tests, with retiring New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum and Australian great Adam Gilchrist holding the record for most maximums with 100 each.
Recalled Australian quick Jackson Bird took just one wicket for the match, putting his spot for the second Test in doubt.
In his favour, however, are concerns about Peter Siddle's back complaint and questions over James Pattinson's ability to last a full five days if required.
Siddle managed just eight overs in the second innings, the Victorian unable to bowl from mid-way through the final session on day three.
Those factors could see South Australian quick Chadd Sayers win his first baggy green cap in what will be McCullum's 101st and final Test.
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