Brisbane - All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu scored two tries and the Hurricanes secured a four-try bonus point with seven minutes left in first half to beat the Reds 37-28 on Saturday and qualify for the Super 14 semi-finals.
The win moved the Hurricanes to 44 points and into the top four on the final weekend of the regular season.
Leading 24-14 at half-time, Jeremy Thrush scored early in the second half to give the Hurricanes a 17-point lead, but the Reds' Mark McLinden pulled the home side back to a 10-point deficit early in the second half.
The Hurricanes restored a 13-point margin when Willie Ripia kicked his second penalty of the night to add to his three conversions for the match. Brando Va'aulu scored a 70-metre intercept try with seven minutes left for the Reds for a four-try bonus point.
Hurricanes captain Rodney So'oialo said he hopes his side improves for next week's playoff match.
"We made a lot of mistakes and got too many balls turned over," So'oialo said. "Against a team like the Reds, they love to run the ball and it made it hard for us."
The win ended any chance that the previous top-four Waratahs would move into the semi-finals, leaving all four Australian sides out of the playoffs for only the third time in the 14-year history of Super rugby.
Captain James Horwill played his 50th match for the Reds, who finished the year with just three wins and in 13th place. It was the sixth straight year they have finished in the bottom three in the standings.