The 32-year-old Canterbury spinner was affected by a number of injuries in 2018 and makes a comeback to the Test side after undergoing knee surgery.
He missed the second Test against England early last year as well as the series against Pakistan held in UAE, when Patel made his debut.
"It's great though to have Todd fit again and we're keen to see what his wrist-spin can offer in New Zealand conditions, and he'll also bolster the batting," selector Gavin Larsen said.
"The spinning position has been the only real area we've changed and that's been largely dependent on conditions and injuries.
"We're in a fortunate position having a number of high-quality spinners available, and it's a tough call on Ajaz who was a star of the UAE tour."
Patel took 5 wickets on debut in Abu Dhabi but has struggled for form since that time. The remainder of the squad is unchanged from the one that featured in the Sri Lanka series.
Will Young has once again been included in the squad whereas Mitchell Santner remains unavailable as he is still recovering from knee surgery.
The first of the three Tests begins on February 28 in Hamilton before the next two games are played in Wellington and Christchurch, respectively.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Will Young.
First Published: February 22, 2019, 10:21 AM IST