Watling, England's tormentor with an epic double century in Mount Maunganui that helped New Zealand to an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-Test series, was out for a painstaking 55 to a Broad bumper.
With the support of opener Rory Burns, who posted his second test century and was out immediately afterwards for 101 to a hairline run out call, Root put on 118 for the third wicket and gave backbone to England's reply. "These pitches are tough work to get wickets on, you can't expect to come and get five for 30 on pitches like this", he said.
England made a confident start to day two when they removed both overnight batsmen early but then lost the initiative as Watling and Mitchell staged their fix mission before Broad removed both batsmen either side of the tea break.
With Root and Burns putting on 177 for the third wicket, England found the "bat-long" partnership they had been searching for in their attempt to follow the same recipe New Zealand used to win the first Test.
Joe Root has faced more balls in these innings (278) than in one of his previous innings as captain of England.
Burns, however, remained hopeful, saying: "There's still a fair bit of batting there, it's about getting as far ahead of them as we can now and see what we can enforce".
It is not certain who the last batsman to record a Test century for England while sporting a moustache was - some have proffered Jack Russell in 1996 - and Burns admitted his facial fuzz, in honour of Movember, is not likely to last long on his return home.
Stokes was in visible discomfort in his only two overs on the opening day of the rain-affected second Test at Seddon Park, where Tom Latham's unbeaten century underpinned New Zealand's 171 for three.
Mark Butcher on Joe Root: "There was a change during the innings". He fought with himself, but when he got into the footwork, it started to get better and his balance was great.
He said: "I think it's pretty evenly poised".
Now Broad hopes to remind him of everything he has achieved in such a short space of time and persuade him to accept that such barren patches are inevitable. "We got to Midwicket and then came back above the wicket and tried to hang the ball outside". But, with less than half an hour to go before Tea and out of nowhere, New Zealand ran him out by the closest of margins.
Broad was the pick of England's attack with four wickets for 73 runs on a surface that offered precious little for fast bowlers as the Black Caps were restricted to 375 all out before the tourists closed on 39 for two. "But he was able to do the job".