Hamilton - Brendon McCullum bade farewell to limited overs cricket in trademark fashion with a swashbuckling 47 on Monday, but was let down by a spectacular collapse as New Zealand fell for 246 in their decider against Australia.
Martin Guptill top scored with 59 at Seddon Park in Hamilton and Grant Elliott chimed in with 50.
But when New Zealand were set for a big finish the innings collapsed with the last five wickets falling for nine runs in 14 deliveries, ending in the 46th over.
New Zealand and Australia went into the match locked at 1-1 and with McCullum looking to end his illustrious ODI career by claiming the winner-takes-all showdown.
He received a guard of honour from Australia as he took the field and, after ensuring a flying start for New Zealand, received a standing ovation from the capacity 6,000 crowd when he departed.
One of the biggest hitters in the game, McCullum's 47 came off 27 balls and included three sixes to give him 200 sixes in his 260-match ODI career.
He retires from ODI cricket fourth on the sixes list which is headed by Pakistan's Shahid Afridi with 351.
In Tests, the 34-year-old McCullum shares the world record of 100 sixes with now retired Australian Adam Gilchrist and with every chance of claiming the honour outright before retiring from all international cricket after the two-Test series against Australia this month.
With McCullum at the crease in Hamilton the run rate was near 8.5 an over but slowed after his dismissal.
He skied a delivery from Mitchell Marsh which had John Hastings and Glen Maxwell hesitating over who should take the catch before Hastings dived late to pouch the ball and close McCullum's ODI career.
Guptill, who had played a support role while his captain was at the crease, picked up the pace and reached 59, his 30th half century, before he was hoodwinked by Adam Zampa and sent a top edge to Hastings at short fine leg.
As in the second match in Wellington, won by Australia by four wickets two days ago, New Zealand found themselves losing momentum in the middle order.
Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls were quickly in and out for 18 each before Elliott and Corey Anderson tried to regain the initiative with a 52-run stand.
When Anderson was dismissed as they prepared to mount a late assault New Zealand were 223-5 with 10 overs remaining.
Marsh then claimed Luke Ronchi and Elliott with successive balls to finish with three for 34.
Scott Boland removed Adam Milne and Hastings was left sitting on a hat-trick when he took Doug Bracewell and Ish Sodhi to end the innings with 27 balls to spare.