The 24-year-old Olympic bronze medallist maintained a challenging position throughout the race after coming home fifth following a disappointing opening race in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
But, in New Zealand, Brownlee burst out of the second transition and established an immediate lead over world champion Javier Gomez of Spain and Frenchman Pierre Le Corre, while current world number one Mario Mola of Spain was a minute down by this stage.
Though the final stages of the 10-kilometre run brought with them heavy rain, Brownlee reached the final corner clear of his rivals and celebrated along with the crowd over the final few metres before crossing the line in a sprint finish with a time of one hour 55 minutes and 26 seconds ahead of Gomez and third-placed Le Corre.
Jonny’s brother Alistair missed the race because of a minor ankle injury but, with Olympic qualification to be decided in August and September at the test event in Rio and the world series Grand Final in Chicago, none of the leading triathletes will want to peak too soon. Alastair is hopeful of a return in time for the fourth round in Cape Town late next month.
Browlee was visibly delighted with victory and said: “In (the previous round in) Abu Dhabi I made many mistakes, and I’ve been beating myself up about it for the last few weeks. I’ve been training hard because I didn’t want to do that again, and I wanted to be able to show how good I was.
“I really enjoyed it, I felt good and I’m pleased to win.”
The West Yorkshireman added on Twitter: “Very happy to win #AucklandWTS today. It is a honest triathlon course. Just like the Yorkshire hill’s!”
Brownlee now takes up the world number one ranking which he carries to the next round on Australia’s Gold Coast in a fortnight.
In the women’s race, Lucy Hall came home 17th to finish just under five minutes behind eventual winner Gwen Jorgensen of the United States.
Leicestershire’s Hall came home in a time of 2:14.10 but fellow Briton Jessica Learmonth suffered a mechanical issue during the bike ride and was forced to withdraw from the race.