The Black Caps were on 127 for two off 19 overs and needed just seven more off the 20th, assuming they didn't lose a wicket, for victory under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Although, at that stage, rain was falling heavily it had been for some time.
Nevertheless, the umpires then took the players off the field with the game just shy of the 20 overs in the second innings needed for a result.
The hard-hitting Brendon McCullum was 60 not out, off 51 balls with five fours, while experienced all-rounder Scott Styris was unbeaten on 19.
Had they won this would have been New Zealand's first international win of a tour which saw them lose the Test series 2-0 and then suffer a nine-wicket defeat in Friday's lone Twenty20.
As it was, England remained 1-0 up in this five-match campaign ahead of the third one-dayer at Bristol.
England took 83 minutes to bowl their 19 overs but International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Javagal Srinath said they would not be fined or punished in any way for a slow over-rate.
"England were not in breach of the over-rate," former India fast bowler Srinath told reporters. "They had enough allowances. There were a few referrals to the third umpire and injuries."
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori suggested the officials could have moved the game along more quickly but Srinath defended the actions of Australia's Steve Davis and his on-field English colleague Ian Gould.
"I understand that coming from Daniel Vettori but I think the umpires did a commendable job."
Earlier, Davis told Sky Sports: "For consistency with our rulings earlier in the day, we had to come off. The two teams were struggling to stand up.
"The number of balls left shouldn't come into it, if that's the way the conditions are."
Despite the prevailing bad weather, there was still a gap of 30 minutes between the innings when it might have been possible for the teams to turn round in 10.
"That's the standard one-day international playing condition. We couldn't go below that," said Davis.
Earlier, New Zealand medium-pacer Grant Elliott took three for 23 in five overs on his one-day international debut as England were bowled out for 162 off their 24 overs after rain delayed the start. Opening batsman Luke Wright top-scored with an ODI best 52.
South Africa-born Elliott, 29, only called up into the squad on Monday after playing club cricket in Surrey, south-east England, replaced James Marshall in the only change to the side thrashed by 114 runs at the Riverside on Sunday.
New Zealand, after captain Daniel Vettori won the toss, needed just three balls to take their first wicket.
Ian Bell, on his home ground, fell for nought when he was well caught by Vettori, running back from mid-off, after the Warwickshire batsman got a leading edge trying to turn Kyle Mills legside.
Bell's exit brought in Kevin Pietersen, who made 110 not out on Sunday.
Before the game there had been talk about whether Pietersen would repeat Sunday's 'switch-hitting' exploits which saw him twice strike medium-pacer Styris for six while effectively batting left-handed.
But there were no 'reverse slog sweeps' before Pietersen, on 13, drove Michael Mason's fourth ball straight to Vettori at mid-off.
Wright though launched Mason over extra-cover for four, drove him next ball for six and then, off the third ball of the over, hoisted the seamer for six over square leg after going down on one knee.
The Sussex batsman then completed his fifty when he hammered Mason, whose two overs cost 24 runs, through mid-off for four.
That shot saw the 23-year-old, in his seventh one-day international, surpass his previous best of 50 against India at The Oval in September.
But going for another big hit, Wright gave Elliott his first wicket at this level when he holed out to Styris at long-off.
No sooner was Wright out then rain stopped play with England 77 for three in the 13th over.
When play resumed Elliott captured the key wickets of Owais Shah, lbw for 18, and England captain Paul Collingwood, caught by Daniel Flynn for 37.