But Gatland, back in his hometown of Hamilton, insists Saturday's second Test gives Wales the chance to prove their worth against the world's number one ranked side in front of arguably the globe's most fervent supporters.
"The first thing about playing New Zealand is not just about the results, it's the performance and earning some respect is key," said Gatland, who was part of Sir Ian McGeechan's coaching staff when the 2009 Lions toured South Africa.
"It's the number one priority for me on this tour. We've tried to earn that respect over the last couple of years and it was also very much the goal on the Lions tour to South Africa last year.
"We want respect from the All Blacks and then the New Zealand public and hope they will take us seriously after Saturday."
Gatland now faces his biggest challenge as Wales coach to turn a run of just four wins in 11 matches this season ahead of next year's World Cup back in his native country.
Four of those meetings have come against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa but the Dragons have not tasted success over any of the southern hemisphere giants since November 2008.
"We have been written off publicly but hands up, that's the way it is," added Gatland.
"We can't say anything to people who are questioning the ability of us to perform. We just have to keep our mouths shut and hopefully perform and play well this weekend. That would be a start for us.
"We have to acquit ourselves really well and I'd be disappointed if we don't perform to the level we're capable of doing and give a good account of ourselves."