Ross Taylor's dashing, unbeaten 67 kept England's attack at bay before bad light forced an early halt to the first day's play of the second Test here at Old Trafford on Friday.
New Zealand reached stumps on 202 for four, having slumped to 123 for four after a promising start.
All-rounder Jacob Oram, who made a century in the drawn first Test at Lord's, was 22 not out.
Oram came to the crease after Daniel Flynn had retired hurt having had a tooth broken when he missed an attempted hook off a James Anderson bouncer before the ball crashed into the grille of his helmet.
"I'm trying to get them out, trying to get their wickets. I thought that was the best way," Anderson, bowling on his Lancashire home ground, said.
But Taylor and Oram then shared in a counter-attacking stand of 66 in 80 balls, their runs coming in under an hour.
Left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom, who struck twice in seven balls before lunch, led England's attack with two for 33 in 16 overs.
Earlier, opener Jamie How made 64 and put on 80 for the first wicket with Aaron Redmond (28) after New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori won the toss.
"It was nice to get a good opening partnership with Aaron today, especially when you win the toss and bat," said How, caught behind off Anderson.
"Jake and Roscoe's partnership was important in ending the day on a good note," he added.
How said Flynn would have no problems batting again. "He's okay. He needs a little bit of dentist work but he's a tough little fella so he'll be right come tomorrow (Saturday)."
How's exit brought in the hard-hitting Brendon McCullum, New Zealand's first innings hero at Lord's with a run-a-ball-97.
McCullum cut Monty Panesar for four and next ball hoisted the left-arm spinner for six.
But three balls later wicket-keeper McCullum was out for 11 when he edged a Panesar ball that turned to first slip Paul Collingwood. New Zealand, who had been 80 for one, were now 123 for four.
Their score had moved on to 136 when Flynn, playing in only his second Test, retired hurt on four.
Tall all-rounder Oram, who'd struggled with the short ball at Lord's, then took his eye off an Anderson bouncer that struck him on the helmet.
"I wouldn't say I felt satisfied," said Anderson when asked to explain his feelings after hitting Flynn.
"I went up to him as soon as it hit him (Flynn) and asked him if he was alright. I didn't get a reply.
"It's just one of those things. I'm trying to get him out and I want to make it as uncomfortable for him as possible. I've hit people on the head (before) but never had teeth to show for it."
Anderson added the sight of blood on the pitch wouldn't stop him bowling more bouncers at both Flynn and Oram.
"When you hit someone on the head, generally it encourages bowlers to do it again," he said. "Certainly with Oram we thought it was a bit of a weakness. He didn't look that comfortable. You are just going to keep doing it when someone plays it like that."
Taylor demonstrated one way to combat the short ball on a lively pitch by hooking an Anderson bouncer for six.
Then a rasping cut off Anderson saw Taylor to a 52-ball fifty with a six and seven fours. It was Taylor's fourth half-century in his seventh Test.
In the morning Sidebottom bowled Redmond shouldering arms and then, for the second innings in a row, had James Marshall lbw for nought.
This match saw Darrell Hair umpiring his first Test since penalising Pakistan five penalty runs for alleged ball-tampering at The Oval in 2006.
The 55-year-old enjoyed a largely trouble-free day until, in consultation with fellow Australian umpire Simon Taufel, he offered New Zealand the light at just before 3pm local time (1400GMT).
Then the 17,000 crowd, some of whom booed, were kept waiting for over 90 minutes before play was finally abandoned for the day.
New Zealand made one change to their team, Iain O'Brien in for fellow pace bowler Tim Southee after the teenager went down with a stomach virus.