The hosts saved the match courtesy of Brendon McCullum's triple century - the first by a New Zealander in test cricket - and his partnerships with BJ Watling and Jimmy Neesham. (Agencies)
Both Watling and Neesham scored centuries as New Zealand recovered from 94 for five on the third day to declare on a record total of 680 for eight before lunch on Tuesday, setting India an impossible victory target of 435 in 67 overs.
It could have been a different story had Virat Kohli held a chance off McCullum when the New Zealand captain was on nine.
He then went on to share a world-record sixth wicket 352-run partnership with Watling to bat his side to safety by stumps on the fourth day.
"That was one of the partnerships that we had to break to get into the lower order batsmen," Dhoni said of the McCullum-Watling partnership.
"From behind the stumps, you try to figure out how to get him out. You'll try everything from catching slips to catching covers to deep square leg to deep point. Bowling onto the pads and bowling outside off,” Dhoni said.
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work. I think overall we'll accept that we were not able to get two batsmen out and they batted really well,” he said.
"We give credit to them but at the same time what really needs to be appreciated is the will and the way our fast bowlers tried to get the opposition out on a very flat wicket."
India's pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Zaheer Khan combined for 139 of India's 210 overs in New Zealand's second innings.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowled 52 overs and such was Dhoni's desire to dismiss Watling and McCullum he resorted to bowling an over himself while part-timers Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan also bowled a few overs.
Dhoni also looked enviously at the make-up of New Zealand's side with two genuine all-rounders in Corey Anderson and Neesham, who took the pressure off their own pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.
"It's good to have cricketers who can bat and bowl, especially in test matches,” he said.
"Playing on surfaces like this, you may need that fifth bowler. We have not been able to get the kind of all-rounder that some of the other countries have,” Dhoni said.
"Because with that you can try to maintain the pressure ... (and) overall, that really sets the tone for the New Zealand team," he said.
The hosts saved the match courtesy of Brendon McCullum's triple century - the first by a New Zealander in test cricket - and his partnerships with BJ Watling and Jimmy Neesham.