As tributes flow for David Bowie the people of Rotorua are among those lamenting the passing of a music legend.

Bowie rocked the world as he reached out to space with alter ego Ziggy Stardust and hits such as Starman.

It's rumoured former Solitaire Lodge and Cassimir Lodge owner Reg Turner has played host to Bowie and that the rock legend has stayed at historic Muriaroha Lodge while here.

Bowie toured New Zealand several times in his career first playing here in 1978, when he brought his Low Heroes Tour to Christchurch's Queen Elizabeth Park and Auckland's Western Springs.

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Wingspan executive director Debbie Stewart thinks it was the end of the 70s, when as a "starry-eyed adolescent", she met the star while working at Rainbow Springs.

He was on tour and between gigs, an "awesome experience", she said. She vividly remembers his eyes because they were different colours.

"It was unusual looking at such friendly eyes that were so different," she said.

"I was young and impressionable. It was very disconcerting to see someone who is so well known - and so famous. As the curator of the kiwi breeding programme I was lucky to show him a kiwi."

Ms Stewart said she remembered him as a humble and genuinely nice person who was touched by the hospitality in New Zealand.

"His presence was just amazing, an amazing man who pursued music with a passion. It's very sad when you see people's reaction and shock and surprise at his death. ".

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As the news broke many expressed their sadness on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page.

"I'm gonna have a beer and reminisce with a bowie tune or two," said one, another adding "my first concert was Bowie... A freakin musical legend."
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Bowie the tourist: a lasting impression

As an Air New Zealand air hostess in the early 80s I met Bowie on a flight from Rarotonga to Auckland. I 'danced' the safety briefing before him, when before the advent of the safety video the crew demonstrated the full emergency procedure.

Bowie sat in the back row of First Class and watched every move. I felt somewhat overawed and embarrassed, but as air crew celebrities didn't daunt us. We were taught to respect their privacy and I would never have dreamt of approaching him for an autograph or a photo, let alone snuck a selfie in.

I loved his exotic music and the way he pushed boundaries. It wasn't until I heard he had died I realised what an impact his genius had on me.
- Pippa Brown