Howley flew to Johannesburg last month to watch New Zealand's thrilling 38-27 victory over the Springboks - a contest that has unofficially been labelled the match of the decade.
Wales haven't won an autumn international since 2009 but Howley is determined to put that right - although he appreciates the size of the task awaiting his side.
"We need the mental intensity and mental preparation to be ready for a week Saturday," said Howley.
"Having had the experience of going out to watch South Africa and New Zealand in Jo'burg, we are probably coming up against one of the most physical sides in world rugby.
"When you look at the performances of late in the autumn series, we have been hugely disappointing.
"When this side played last it was against England and, I believe after that performance, we will have to go up another level to have any chance of beating the Springboks."