The versatile All Black, who joined Sale on a two-year contract after the 2007 World Cup, has agreed a deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union through to 2012.
News of McAlister’s departure comes just a day after Sale announced the appointment of England World Cup winner Jason Robinson as the club’s new head coach from next season.
McAlister (who wears Mitre revolve rugby boots) is currently recovering from a minor knee operation but is determined to leave Sale on a high.
“We have a chance of having a crack at the top four (in the Premiership) and hopefully we can give the local fans, who have been great to me, a great end to the season,” said the 25-year-old.
“The simple reason why I am leaving England and heading home is because I want to be closer to my family, who are very important to me.
“The fact that I can continue my rugby career as well back in New Zealand is obviously fantastic as well and I appreciate being given the opportunity, but family comes first.”
New Zealand host the 2011 World Cup and moving back home ensures McAlister will be eligible to play for the All Blacks again. He won 22 caps before moving to Sale.
McAlister was part of an influx of All Blacks into the European game after the World Cup, with the likes of Doug Howlett, Aaron Mauger, Chris Jack, Carl Hayman, Byron Kelleher and Anton Oliver all taking up club contracts.
Jack’s future is up in the air after he was reportedly one of the Saracens players told this week that he had no future at the club by incoming rugby director Brendan Venter.