England had their moments, notably a third-minute try by skipper Martin Corry, and their forwards - as against Australia last weekend - made an impressively powerful contribution.
New Zealand, though, always looked a class apart behind the scrum, where captain Tana Umaga produced a sparkling try-scoring display.
Fly-half Dan Carter weighed in with 13 points, and hooker Keven Mealamu also touched down, yet England can take great heart from a courageous effort that augers well for preparations towards their 2007 World Cup defence.
New Zealand were briefly reduced to 13 men during the second period when prop Tony Woodcock and substitute front-row man Neemia Tialata collected yellow cards, yet they did just enough, despite seeing flanker Chris Masoe also sin-binned near the end.
Charlie Hodgson kicked 14 points for the home side, but the victory they so desperately wanted, narrowly eluded them.
England now complete their autumn programme against Samoa next weekend, when New Zealand go in pursuit of a far greater prize, yet Andy Robinson's team certainly made world rugby's top-ranked side sit up and take notice.