Cairns, who notched a world record 87 Test-match sixes and is one of very few batsmen to average more than one six per Test, said Monday his last match will be a Twenty20 encounter against the West Indies in Auckland next month.
"I feel that the time is right for me to retire from international cricket," said Cairns, the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2000.
"I still enjoy playing for the Black Caps and want to leave at a time when that enjoyment has not diminished, and when I feel that I am still performing at the top level and contributing to the success of the team."
The 35-year-old, who has limited himself to One-day internationals in recent seasons, is pulling up stumps just 50 runs short of the 5,000-run, 200-wicket double achieved by just two players in the limited-overs game; Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya and South Africa's Jacques Kallis.
Before retiring from Test cricket in 2004, he became only the sixth player in world Test cricket to score 3,000 runs and take 200 wickets.
Cairns was one of the game's great entertainers, mixing powerful batting feats with some right-arm, fast-medium bowling spells.
In 215 One-day internationals dating back to 1991, he scored 4,950 runs at an average of 29.46 and took 201 wickets at 32.80.
As a Test cricketer, he scored 3,320 runs at 33.53 and took 218 wickets at 29.40.
Those numbers could have been more impressive had his career not been blighted by injury.
The past couple of years proved especially difficult as he nursed fragile knees as well as an ankle that has no ligament support.
He was axed from New Zealand's tour to South Africa late last year but responded to the setback by getting back into shape and regaining his place on merit.
New Zealand coach John Bracewell said Cairns would be missed.
"He is very much the elder statesman within the team and plays an important role in mentoring players," Bracewell said.
"He has shown great commitment in returning to full fitness this season and I believe that he had the ability to push towards the World Cup, if that is what he desired."
Cairns, who recently signed for an off-season with Lancashire league club Bacup, is currently pursuing a business venture which involves getting camera equipment installed in sightscreens and allowing for every ball to be logged into a computer and open for after-match analysis.
The matter is currently before the England Cricket Board for consideration.