Snedden, who played 25 Tests and 93 one-day internationals for New Zealand between 1981 and 1990, will take up the post with Rugby New Zealand 2001, the company responsible for managing the event.
"The position of Rugby World Cup CEO will be challenging and I am looking forward to taking up the role," said Snedden.
"The Rugby World Cup 2011 will be an exciting time for New Zealand as we host one of the world's premier sports events and I am excited about being part of this.
"I feel my time at New Zealand Cricket has provided me with a solid base of experience for this position and admit to feeling some sadness that I am leaving NZC after a long association as a player, Board member and CEO."
The 48-year-old former lawyer took up the position of New Zealand Cricket chief executive in August 2001 having previously been a member of the NZC Board and the Hood Committee, which oversaw an overhaul of cricket's governance in 1995.
Rugby New Zealand 2001 chairman Jock Hobbs, who is also New Zealand Rugby Union chairman, added: "Martin brings all of the right qualities to this role. As a New Zealander he also shares our passion to make Rugby World Cup 2011 the best ever tournament and a showcase for New Zealand on the world stage."
The New Zealand Cricket Board will begin a process to have a new chief executive in place before Snedden leaves the role in May 2007.