The former Test opener announced that he will not take up an option to renew his contract with the Proteas when it expires at the end of July. During two years in charge, Kirsten has led the team to number one in the International Cricket Council Test rankings and developed a formidable line-up.
But the demands of international cricket's relentless schedule placed restraints on the 45-year-old father-of three's home life which came into sharp focus during the break following the home series against Pakistan. "I feel I can no longer cope with the lengthy periods of separation from my family that this job demands," Kirsten told ESPN Cricinfo.
"Last year, I had 250 days away from Cape Town, my home. I believe my absentia as a father is compromising my responsibilities to my family."
Kirsten revealed the decision came as a surprise to his wife Deborah.
"I don't think she believed me when I said I was not going to renew," Kirsten said. "But that's how I feel about the importance of the institution of family."
Reflecting on his two years in charge, Kirsten said: "The Test team moved to new heights. We've got an incredibly strong senior player base."
Kirsten, who will stand down at the conclusion of the upcoming Champions Trophy in England, has tipped his assistant Russell Domingo as a possible successor.
Bowling coach Allan Donald backed Kirsten's decision but insists his own future is not in doubt, despite his contract ending at the same time.