The victory means South Africa is now outright the most successful team in Rugby World Cup history, with four tournament wins.
South Africa has made it back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins with victory over New Zealand.
It means back-to-back wins for South Africa, who triumphed over England in the 2019 final in Japan.
And with four tournament wins to their name, the Springboks are now outright the most successful team in Rugby World Cup history – a title they previously shared with All Blacks.
A red card for New Zealand captain Sam Cane – the first in a Rugby World Cup final for a high tackle, and four kicks from Handre Pollard, gave South Africa the first-half advantage.
Despite being a man down, the All Blacks launched a spirited fightback in the second half, pulling to within a point with a try from Beauden Barrett.
His brother, Jordie Barrett, then had a chance to complete a famous comeback victory for New Zealand – but missed a long-range penalty late on.
South Africa, who lost Cheslin Kolbe to a sin bin for a deliberate knock-on as the final whistle drew near, then stood firm in the face of late pressure from New Zealand to secure a narrow – and historic – victory.
The win means the Springboks remain unbeaten in the Rugby World Cup finals – two of which have been won against their great Southern Hemisphere rivals, New Zealand.
They previously beat the All Blacks in 1995 in a narrow 15-12 extra-time win in Johannesburg – their first Rugby World Cup title.
The Springboks then beat England 15-6 in the 2007 final to win their second trophy.
Their third – and the first of their consecutive Webb Ellis Cup wins – came against England in the last Rugby World Cup – the 2019 tournament in Japan.
New Zealand is the only other team to have won consecutive Rugby World Cups, with victories in 2011 and 2015.