Auckland- The ugly confrontation that marred New Zealand and South Africa's 2011 World Cup quarter-final is unlikely to be repeated in Tuesday's clash at Eden Park because the teams have 'grown up', New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum believes.

The World Cup co-hosts play South Africa in the first semi-final in Auckland on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to their first final.

In the 2011 quarter-final at Dhaka, a verbal altercation between players from both teams escalated to an angry shoving match before New Zealand secured a 49-run victory.

"We obviously had a bit of a stoush (altercation) with them four years ago," McCullum, who played in that game, told reporters at Eden Park on Monday.

"I think both teams have grown up immensely in that time and we're different teams and play the game in a different spirit.

"Verbals are not how we want to play the game.

"Other teams like that sort of thing but for us we're not good enough to have that as our focus.

"We have to make sure that we're respectful of the game and go about our work."

McCullum's side have gone through the tournament unbeaten and have a strong record against the Proteas in World Cup matches, having won four of their six games at the global showpiece, including the last three in succession.

In recent matches, South Africa comfortably won two games last October before New Zealand rebounded with a World cup warmup win in the leadup.

"They came over here, they touched us up a little bit in the opening couple of games we had in our home summer and then we obviously had a good win against them in a warmup game down in Christchurch," he said.

"(But) I think the warmup game doesn't have a great deal of relevance because times have changed since then.

"I don't think much separates both teams and it will come down to a pretty small margin and it will be the team that grabs that opportunity that will come out on top.

"It should be a great contest and one everyone's looking forward to it."