New Zealand were all out for 254 in their first innings on day three of the second Test, trailing England by 211 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Saturday.
Tea was taken at the fall of the last wicket and England gave no immediate indication whether they would force the follow-on.
Brendon McCullum top-scored for New Zealand with 69 and BJ Watling made 60. England's Stuart Broad took six for 51.
Earlier at lunch, New Zealand were on Saturday fighting for survival on the third day of the second cricket Test against England as they went to lunch at 169 for five, needing a further 97 runs to avoid the follow on.
New Zealand's BJ Watling (front) bats with England's Ian Bell looking on during day three of their 2nd Test match, played at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, on March 16, 2013.
Their last recognised batsmen were at the crease with Brendon McCullum not out 52 and BJ Watling on 19 as the England bowlers hunted for a break to get into the bottom order.
New Zealand resumed the day at three for 66 and needing to get through to 266 to avoid the follow on after England posted 465 in their first innings.
They lost two wickets in the morning session with Kane Williamson the first to fall when he lasted five overs before patting at an innocuous delivery to be caught and bowled by Stuart Broad for 42.
Dean Brownlie followed three balls later when a Jimmy Anderson delivery nipped back and trapped him leg before wicket on 18 and reducing New Zealand to five for 89.
New Zealand did appeal Brownlie's dismissal but to no avail as television replays showed the ball would have grazed the top of the stumps.
McCullum and Watling have since put on 80 runs for the sixth wicket with McCullum bringing up his 27th Test 50 with a reverse sweep to swat Joe Root to the boundary.
Bowling for England, Broad has figures of three for 44 with Williamson's wicket following the dismissals of Hamish Rutherford and Ross Taylor in successive balls on Friday.
Anderson has been the other successful bowler, removing opener Peter Fulton and Brownlie to have two for 39.
The weather in Wellington is overcast but there is no rain forecast.
The three-Test series is tied 0-0 after the first match in Dunedin last week was drawn. The final Test starts in Auckland next Friday.
Brief Scores: England 465 (Jonathan Trott 121, Nick Compton 100, Kevin Pietersen 73; Bruce Martin 4 for 130) lead New Zealand 254 (Brendon McCullum 69, BJ Watling 60; Stuart Broad 6 for 51) by 211 runs.
First Published: March 16, 2013, 8:51 am