Speaking ahead of the team's departure for New Zealand on Saturday, De Villiers said South Africa were keen to avenge their defeat by the Black Caps in a dramatic 2015 World Cup semi-final which was marked by controversy over South Africa's team selection.
The Proteas brought in Vernon Philander for fellow fast bowler Kyle Abbott in that game, a decision made, it was claimed, to ensure four players of colour in the starting XI.
South Africa will travel as the world's leading one-day team after completing a 5-0 clean sweep against Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park on Friday.
In less than a week they will play a one-off Twenty20 international in Auckland next Friday, with the first of five one-day internationals in Hamilton two days later.
De Villiers said the number one ranking gave the team confidence but also put pressure on the players.
"Being the number one team in the world people expect you to play a certain level of cricket all the time," he said.
"But with the team ethic we have at the moment I think we'll thrive under that kind of pressure. It definitely gives you confidence as well. There's a reason why we're number one and that's because we're playing good cricket.
"We've got a bit of unfinished business there from the 2015 World Cup and we're very keen to play good cricket against a team that has also been playing well.
"I think we deserve to be number one and we want to carry on playing the way we have been."
De Villiers said he expected a tough challenge.
"New Zealand are a street-smart team and they find ways to compete but we have a decent record there. The last few tours we have been there we have played really good cricket."
Faf du Plessis, who will captain the team in the T20 international as well as a three-match Test series which follows the one-day games, said overcoming jet lag would be the immediate challenge for the squad.
"Normally we go there and we've got about a week to ten days to get over jet lag. We rested a lot of players from our (losing) T20 series against Sri Lanka but we still should have won. All our players are back now and we've got an opportunity to perform well in a once-off game."
Coach Russell Domingo said: "Schedules are so tight these days but we can't be seen to be making any excuses. We want to start the tour playing good cricket."
South African limited overs squad: AB de Villiers (one-day international captain), Faf du Plessis (T20 international captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi.
17 Only Twenty20 international, Auckland
19 First one-day international, Hamilton
22 Second one-day international, Christchurch
25 Third one-day international, Wellington
1 Fourth one-day international, Napier
4 Fifth one-day international, Auckland
8-12 First Test, Dunedin
16-20 Second Test, Wellington
25-29 Third Test, Hamilton
First Published: February 11, 2017, 10:25 AM IST