Otago achieved their promotion when beating Hawke's Bay 24-20 in Dunedin on Sunday.
Canterbury, who went into their game with the goal of putting together an 80-minute performance, something they hadn't managed all season, got off to a flying start when two early tries gave them a 14-0 lead.
They resulted from the impact Canterbury were able to make through the midfield where second five-eighths Lucy Anderson made some fine breaks, generally finding centre Grace Brooker ready in support to capitalise.
They each scored tries, along with free-running fullback Olivia McGoverne.
Auckland did manage to pull the score back without ever being able to get in front and when Canterbury halfback Kendra Cocksedge landed a late dropped goal, the issue was put beyond doubt with only minutes remaining.
Canterbury coach Kieran Kite told SKY Sports afterwards that he was a little gobsmacked by the outcome.
"We wanted to come here today and put on an 80-minute performance – something we hadn't done all season.
"I think we achieved a lot of that today," he said.
The penalty count against Canterbury disappointed him and he felt that contributed to Auckland getting back into the game.
"But the mental resolve of the team has been impressive all year," he said.
Kite said they had been given a reminder of what they would need to do when pushed hard by Counties Manukau in last week's semifinal.
They had gone back to what they knew and by Thursday's training he was confident they would be in the right frame of mind to push for the win.
Auckland coach Richie Walker said Canterbury had been the benchmark over the last few years and congratulated them for that.
He was proud of his own team, he said.
"We're ready to continue our climb, it doesn't end here," he said.
Auckland had made a slow start to the game and that cost them.
"You get 14 points down in the first 10 minutes and it's an uphill climb from there. We were able to climb back and get close, but we didn't finish it off," he said.
Otago, having scored the first try of the game to first five-eighths Rosie Kelly, were 7-8 down after flanker Niamh Jefferson scored after 30 minutes. Otago lost second five-eighths Kilistina Moata'ane to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle five minutes later but Hawke's Bay were unable to take advantage.
Moata'ane looked to make up for her error in the 54th minute when she was tackled just short of the corner but an earlier penalty advantage saw Kelly land the penalty goal to give Otago a 10-8 lead.
However, Hawke's Bay struck back immediately with No 8 Gemma Woods scoring and Cottrell adding the conversion to extend the lead to five points.
But an infringement at the restart allowed Otago to kick to the corner and from the lineout second five-eighths Kilistina Moata'ane made no mistake off the back of an inside pass from Kelly and she stretched out in the tackle to get the ball over the line.
Otago then sealed the game in the 70th minute, although it wasn't immediately obvious, with a set-piece move which saw fullback Sheree Hume double round replacement Hinemoa Watene to score in the corner with Kelly showing how valuable her kicking prowess was by landing a sideline conversion.
Hawke's Bay were not finished however and again from the restart they scored after giving Iosefo an overlap.
Scorers: Canterbury 30 (Lucy Anderson, Grace Brooker, Olivia McGoverne tries; Kendra Cocksedge 3 con, 2 pen, dropped goal) Auckland 20 (Ruahei Demant 2, Isla Norman-Bell tries; Patricia Maliepo con, pen). HT: 17-10
Otago 24 (Rosie Kelly, Kilistina Moata'ane, Sheree Hume tries; Kelly 3 con, pen) Hawke's Bay 20 (Niamh Jefferson, Gemma Woods, Tori Iosefo tries; Krysten Cottrell con, pen) HT: 7-8