Gareth Hopkins, as he did in the recent third Test defeat, where McCullum played as as a batsman only because of a back injury, is likely to take over as wicket-keeper after being included in a 12-man squad for the first of a five-match series at the Riverside.
That will leave one-day opener McCullum free to concentrate on his blistering batting.
In April, the 26-year-old smashed 158 from 73 balls - the highest individual score in a Twenty20 match - for Kolkata against Bangalore in the opening fixture of the Indian Premier League.
However, during New Zealand's nine-wicket Twenty20 thrashing by England at Old Trafford on Friday, McCullum faced just eight balls in the first six overs of powerplays and was eventually out for a modest 24.
His cheap dismissal was key to England restricting New Zealand to 123 for nine - their lowest Twenty20 total.
But New Zealand seamer Kyle Mills said it was just a matter of time before McCullum hits form.
"I think in the first four overs of the game he only faced a few balls, but he'll come into play soon," said Mills.
"He's a world-class player, he's shown that over the last two years and I'm sure he'll be a force to be reckoned with during this series."
Beaten 2-0 by England in the Test campaign, where they had chances in both the games they lost, New Zealand's defeat at Old Trafford was their seventh successive Twenty20 reverse.
But in 50-over cricket New Zealand are third in the world rankings and they reached the semi-finals of last year's World Cup in the Caribbean - defeating England by six wickets in their opening match in St Lucia.
The Black Caps have lost just one of their last eight one-dayers, a run that includes a 3-1 series win over England in New Zealand in February.
"Our place in the rankings is a recognition of what a good one-day side we are," Mills said. "We feel comfortable in that form of the game."
New Zealand's task won't be made any easier by the absence of Jacob Oram, who could miss the whole series with a hamstring injury.
However, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori challenged his side to fill the gap left by the tall all-rounder.
"Some guys have just got to step up, and if they don't do it, we'll get results like we did at Old Trafford."
Hopkins is set to replace the out-of-form Peter Fulton while teenage seamer Tim Southee is fit again following a right ankle sprain.
New Zealand could also bring in off-spinner Jeetan Patel to replace a member of a pace trio that caused England few problems at Old Trafford.
Kevin Pietersen, who made 42 not out off 41 balls on Friday, said England would not be taking anything for granted.
"McCullum is a serious player on his day and they've got a one-day bowling attack which is under-rated.
"Mills is number five or six in the world in one-day bowling. He bowls 82-83 mph and puts it on a penny. They have a very disciplined one-day team and their fielding is exceptional."