The day began overcast, but the toss was carried out on time, with New Zealand winning and opting to bowl first under the cloud cover.
But the light worsened before the scheduled start of play and the umpires delayed the start.
Shortly afterwards the rain began to fall, far heavier than the drizzle that had been forecast, and far more persistent.
With the ground notoriously slow to drain away water and the light still a concern, the decision was taken to call off play following an inspection after the scheduled tea interval.
There was surprise news at the toss as England revealed that Graeme Swann’s elbow problem had ruled him out of the Test, with Monty Panesar replacing him.
The news subsequently filtered through that the off-spinner would fly to the United States next week for surgery to repair the elbow in time for an ‘early summer’ return ahead of the Ashes, with James Tredwell replacing him in the squad for the rest of the series.
New Zealand, meanwhile, handed debuts to left-arm spinner Bruce Martin and opening batsman Hamish Rutherford, though both were forced to wait for their first taste of Test cricket until at least day two.
Both sides will hope that forecasts of better weather for the rest of the week are borne out. If they are, as many lost overs as possible will be recovered by play starting half an hour earlier – at 21:00 UK time – for the remainder of the match.