The Football Ferns are still waiting for their first World Cup win after falling to the Netherlands 1-nil in Edmonton.
Lieke Martens' 20-metre curling goal in the 33rd minute proved the difference between the two teams with the Dutch joining hosts Canada at the top of Group A.
The New Zealand coach Tony Readings' pre-match prediction of a tight encounter proved accurate with Lieke Martens' goal one of few chances for either side.
Despite territorial and possession advantages the Ferns could not find an equaliser.
Playing in their fourth World Cup, New Zealand are considered the tournament dark horse after storming through qualifying, outscoring opponents 30-0.
Readings found enough in the performance of his side to suggest the Football Ferns can progress from what is shaping up as a dogfight for places in the knockout stages.
"We are obviously disappointed the result but we felt, particularly in the second half, we put in a good performance and were the better team," Readings said.
"But in these tournaments you need to make that count and get the results. The good thing for us is we have too more games to make up for it and if we play in the same manner as we played at the end of the first half and in the second half we will definitely get some wins from this group."
The Ferns also out shot their opponents 11 to 5 throughout the match, but captain Abby Erceg said her team must learn to convert posession into goals.
"It was dissapointing that we let in that goal it was a little bit soft. There's a couple of things we need to work on especially the finishing. You cant have that much posession and not do something with it."
Earlier in the day, a penalty gave Canada a 1-0 win over China to kick start the month long tournament.
The hosts are next up for New Zealand, again in Edmonton, on Friday.