England slumped to a 55-run defeat in pursuit of a record Twenty20 run chase as New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum led the hosts to a series-levelling success at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

McCullum (74) hit five sixes and six fours to help New Zealand set England 192 for six - 11 more runs than their best previous chase, against India in Mumbai less than two months ago.

After Mitchell McClenaghan then took two wickets in two balls to leave the tourists nine for two in the second over, only Jos Buttler (54) spared some of England's blushes by carrying them past both their record low score and worst defeat in this format.

McCullum reached his 50 from 32 balls but took even more severe toll of England in the final two overs of the innings as Stuart Broad conceded 22 in his and then Jade Dernbach 16 in the 20th.

Buttler hit nine fours and a six in his 28-ball half-century, but it was a lone hand from England's number six and could salvage a total of only 137 all out.

McCullum had begun slowly but timed his acceleration expertly, until he was caught on the cover boundary off Dernbach (three for 38) from the penultimate ball of the innings.

He completed the first half-century of this series with a six over square-leg off Broad, and duly added two more sixes in the next three balls to leave his opposite number with figures of 4-0-53-0.

He left England's batsmen with a significant task too, all the more so after Alex Hales tried to push left-armer McClenaghan to leg but lost his off-stump and then Luke Wright speared a catch to point next ball.

Jonny Bairstow connected with two off-side fours off Trent Boult, but nothing more before mis-pulling Ian Butler for a simple catch at square-leg. Birthday boy Michael Lumb was bowled off his pads by Nathan McCullum, and Eoin Morgan was dismissed for 13 from 22 deliveries.

Butler finished with the remarkable figures of two for nine in his four overs, in his first Twenty20 international since 2010, and took the honours ahead of James Franklin despite the latter's four for 15 as England folded.