The New Zealand men's hockey team have been handed a third lesson by world champions Australia in Cairns, losing their final match 4-1 on Monday night.

The Kookaburras, favourites for Olympic gold, led 1-0 at halftime and then rattled in three second-half goals in the space of 10 minutes before a late consolation goal to Nick Wilson.

The hosts won the first match of the series 6-1 and the second 5-1.

Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod says while the side had improved as the series went on, they had a lot of work to do ahead of the Olympics.

"Australia is a team that test your game and are an extremely challenging side to play against, that's why we are here. If you go off your game for just a few minutes they will punish you and score goals," said McLeod.

He said they were made to pay for concentration lapses in the second half of the match which marked goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex's 150th international.

NZ Newswire