England, who were tied down by accurate spin bowling, scored at barely two runs per over as the Black Caps kept tight line and length with Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel extracting exceptional turn and steep bounce from the pitch.
Vettori, skippering the side, finished with figures of 2 for 60 off 38 overs, while Jacob Oram conceded only 18 runs from his 16 overs. Of the 93 overs bowled in the day, 34 were maidens.
"The conditions didn't allow for the free flowing batsmen to go out there and score runs," Pietersen told reporters.
"If a few of us had played our normal game and got out for 10 or 15 or single figures we could have been in a lot of trouble sitting here tonight.
"We got asked to bat the whole day. We got asked to fight and to scrap, and we did. To lose just four wickets in an entire day is a fantastic effort."
"The conditions didn't allow for the free flowing batsmen to go out there and score runs."
The naturally aggressive Pietersen, who smashed his third ball for six, was stymied by the bowlers and exhibited signs of frustration at his inability to lift the scoring rate.
The South African-born batsman was eventually dismissed when a Vettori delivery ballooned off his pad from his bat with the New Zealand captain taking a diving return catch.
Pietersen's 42 came from 131 balls at strike rate of 32.06, which is less than half his career record of 64.68 runs per 100 balls.
Collingwood, who took 25 deliveries to get off the mark, guided England past the follow-on mark of 270, but was also lucky to be at the crease after Brendon McCullum missed a stumping when a ball from Patel reared sharply and hit the wicket-keeper's shoulder.
Earlier, Patel took the first wicket of the day when he had Vaughan caught behind for 63 before lunch, before his spin partner Vettori bowled Strauss with the new ball after the first break.
Bell crept to 25 from 88 deliveries before he was bowled by Kyle Mills in the middle session, with Pietersen the only man to fall after tea as Collingwood and Ambrose combined for an unbeaten seventh-wicket partnership of 41.
"I actually think we bowled really well, and that made it hard for them to score," said Patel.
"Even with the likes of KP [Pietersen], Bell and Collingwood I thought they'd come a bit harder, but it just shows how well we did bowl, how straight and how much we did with the ball, which is exciting for the last day."
Two days remain in the first Test, after which the teams head to Wellington for the second Test, and then Napier for the final game of the series.