In the 112th and likely last test of his record-breaking career, Carter steered the All Blacks to an unprecedented third global title - and first outside New Zealand - with a dropped goal, a penalty from halfway, and a right-footed conversion of Beauden Barrett's breakaway try in the final 10 minutes at Twickenham.
New Zeland lift the Webb Ellis cup (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Carter finished the highest-scoring World Cup final with 19 points, and finally played a full part in an All Blacks' World Cup win after getting injured during the team's 2011 title campaign.
Head coach Steve Hansen was effusive about the contribution of his retiring stars led by Dan Carter, and possibly 34-year-old McCaw who is undecided about his future.
McCaw "is the greatest All Black we've ever had, and Dan's a close second, " Hansen said.
"The only thing that separates them is one's a flanker (McCaw) and shouldn't play 148 Test matches. As a flanker that's unheard of.
"There was a lot of talk going into this game about the loose forward trio, " he said in reference to Wallabies David Pocock, Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy.
"Without wanting to be disrespectful to the other guys who I thought played really well, I thought our trio won that battle and Rico was the leader of our trio."
McCaw, who has indicated retirement is close, is the world's most capped player and most successful captain, leading his team to a near 90 percent win rate.
He said his major motivation was to ensure when he does leave he has added something to the number seven jersey.
"No person is bigger than what the team is and your job is to enhance and add something to that legacy, " he said.
"One thing I've always been big on is it's not so much being a hero every week, it's just doing your job as best you can to serve the team."