Crusaders ran in five tries as the Canterbury side cut through the Sharks in an entertaining victory watched by 35,094 fans at Twickenham.
It was the first Super 15 game to be played in the northern hemisphere because February's earthquake in New Zealand forced a move from the Crusaders' home in Christchurch.
Expertly marshalled by fly-half Dan Carter, the Crusaders backline crossed four times before the break through Carter, Sean Maitland, Isreal Dagg and Zac Guildford.
Alistair Hargreaves and Odwa Ndungane's tries briefly threatened a Sharks comeback, before Maitland's second ended the South African side's hopes.
"It was for adverse reasons why the game was put on today but I hope the people enjoyed Super Rugby," said Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.
"There were some great skills, some great players, some real power and swings of momentum on show.
"I'd like to think it could happen again one day."
However Blackadder's counterpart at the Sharks, John Plumtree, was less enthusiastic about the possibility of repeat.
His Natal-based side played matches in in Perth, Melbourne and Hamilton before flying to London.
"Logistically it is pretty hard work in terms of travel. You won't see a game like that in a while," he said.
The draw of two of the competition's form teams attracted a sizeable crowd to Twickenham, although it was some way short of predictions that more than 50,000 spectators would attend.
The Crusaders came into the game on a run of three successive victories while the Sharks had suffered only one defeat in their opening five games.
The crowd, which raised £175,470 for the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, observed a minute's silence for the victims of the disaster before Carter slotted a penalty for the first points of the match.
It was the Sharks who secured the first try however, as the impressive Willem Alberts barged over from close range after his initial foray had forced the Crusaders defence on to the back foot.
But three sublime tries swept the New Zealand side well clear.
A cute inside pass from Carter allowed Guildford to make a run deep into Sharks territory and eventually Matt Todd set up the try for Crusaders' other wing Maitland.
Soon after centre Sonny Bill Williams stepped inside his man and popped an offload off the floor for Carter to stroll in under the crossbar.
The third try came when a decoy runner had transfixed the Sharks backs, allowing the ball to be spread wide for Israel Dagg to dive over untouched in the corner.
A fourth try and the accompanying bonus point arrived inside 32 minutes as Guildford raced in after Carter, Dagg and scrum-half Andrew Ellis had exploited holes in a scattered Sharks defence.
Sharks replied immediately as Jacques-Louis Potigieter punished some similarly slack Crusaders play, gathering a loose ball off his own restart and surging over.
The South African side were 16 points down at the break, but emerged galvinised to haul their way back into the match.
Second row Hargreaves' dummy and dart from the base and winger Ndungane's scamper into the corner cut the deficit to a bridgeable nine points.
But the Sharks' resurgence was stemmed as Ospreys-bound Kahn Fotuali'i's no-look inside pass freed Guildford and Maitland's dutiful support run was rewarded with a score.
Flanker George Whitelock came close to running the length of the field and adding another try for Crusaders late on but, with the crowd on their feet, he was hauled down just a few yards short of the whitewash.