Although he has predominately spent his career at full-back, Armitage has been called up on the wing for the clash in Dunedin after Mark Cueto was ruled out with a back injury.
Armitage feared he would not play in the World Cup after he was dropped by England at the end of the 2010 Six Nations and missed this year's title-winning campaign through suspension
But England kept the faith and a return to form - culminating in a try against Ireland in the final warm-up game - means Armitage gets his chance.
"I didn't even think I'd be over here so it's a massive turnaround. If you do the hard work, the right things, sometimes you get your rewards," said Armitage.
"I'm really happy the way things have gone. When I was told by Martin that I would be starting he mentioned it was because of the way I'd been training and playing over the summer.
"It's massive satisfaction. To have the opportunity to start now, I'm speechless, it's like a dream come true."
Armitage missed the Six Nations after he was banned for clashing with an anti-doping official and he was in hot water soon after his return for punching Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler.
"What's happened has happened. (The England management) didn't really need to say anything to me. I just had to train hard," said Armitage.
"My record for England is really good, I've never had a problem or issues with discipline. There was nothing for me to really fix.
"I just wanted to keep doing what I'm doing for England and get some form back."
Armitage made his Test debut against the Pacific Islands in 2008 and enjoyed a flying start to his England career before injury and a chronic loss of form halted his progress.
"I play a lot better with a smile on my face, when I am relaxed and enjoying it and recently I have got to back that," said Armitage.
"The style England are playing, the way we want to throw the ball around and the way we want to have a go that suits the way we want to play."
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