umpires Paul Reiffel of Australia and Asad Rauf of Pakistan ruled that the light was not sufficient to allow play to begin on time.
Heavy rain then began to fall at the University Oval, forcing ground staff to fully cover the pitch and surrounds. The rain continued throughout the day, preventing play in the first two sessions and causing the umpires to abandon the day just 75 minutes before scheduled stumps.
Playing hours will be extended on the remaining days to make up for lost time and only 30 overs are likely to be lost if a full days' play is possible on each of the next four days.
Earlier, Swann was ruled out of the three-test series in New Zealand with an elbow injury with the England team saying he will immediately fly to the United States for surgery. Monty Panesar was named in his place.
The 33-year-old Swann underwent an operation in 2009 to remove bone fragments from his right elbow and his new procedure will likely sideline him until early in the northern summer. The first test of England's Ashes series against Australia will be played at Nottingham from July 10.
Swann had previously announced in his regular newspaper column that after England's test warm up match against a New Zealand XI his elbow was causing "discomfort."
"I'll be honest, the elbow is always a concern," Swann said in The Sun. "It's been hanging over me for several years and, despite having an operation in 2009, the problem hasn't entirely gone away.
"It would be a massive pain in the backside if my wonky elbow forced me to miss any of the tests against Australia. I'm absolutely determined to be available for what might be my final two Ashes series and that means managing the elbow as well as possible."
New Zealand named opening batsman Hamish Rutherford, son of former captain Ken Rutherford, and left-arm spinner Bruce Martin to make their test debuts Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Martin was first named in a New Zealand test squad in 1999 but did not play and has had to wait a further 14 years for his test debut.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, BJ Watling, Bruce Martin, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.