The Chiefs, who pipped Richie McCaw's Crusaders in a one-point thriller at Waikato Stadium in July to reach the final, start their campaign in the second round of the southern hemisphere's provincial tournament.
The competition begins on February 15 with a South African derby double-header, starting with the Cheetahs hosting the newly promoted Lions in Bloemfontein before the Durban-based Sharks host the Bulls.
"Local derbies remain the pre-eminent focus of the early rounds as they have proven to be tremendous drawcards to establish early momentum and start the competition with the tribalism and passion that Super Rugby is renowned for," Greg Peters, CEO of governing body SANZAR, said.
The 17th round on June 27-28 will feature only Australian and New Zealand teams to allow for different schedules for June Test matches across the southern hemisphere nations.
Australia's ACT Brumbies, last year's losing finalists in Hamilton, will have to wait until round 11 for a chance to avenge that defeat when they take on the Chiefs at home in Canberra.
The three-time champion Bulls, shock losers to the Brumbies in their home semi-final in Pretoria last year, enjoy a relatively smooth draw, hosting both of this year's finalists at home, but facing none of the non-South Africa teams that made the playoffs in away matches.
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- southern hemisphere