Overnight and morning rain ruined prospects of England pushing on for victory, after the first test in Dunedin was drawn.
New Zealand were 162 for two in their second innings at the end of the match, still trailing England by 49 runs overall.
The final test starts in Auckland on Friday and has become, as England's bowling coach David Saker put it yesterday, effectively a cup final.
When the series began, England, ranked No 2 in the test game, were expected to be too strong across all departments for No 8-ranked New Zealand.
However the hosts had much the better of the opening test in the ANZ international series; by contrast England were the dominant team in Wellington.
The last test in Auckland between the teams, in March 2002, and also a final test of the rubber, produced a series-levelling 76-run win for New Zealand.