Mountaineer Mark Inglis, who conquered Everest despite previously losing both his legs to frostbite, said Sir Edmund is an inspiration who has done a phenomenal amount of good in the world.
"The inspiration he has been to so many people - not just Kiwis, not just young mountaineers like I was when I was growing up - but it's everything he's done since then," he said.
Mr Inglis said the impact of the news in Nepal will be devastating.
"The amount of respect he has and the humanitarian work he has done there will be really missed.
"For me, the climbing of Everest for the very first time was a phenomenal feat but what he did with it was such a huge lesson for all of us," he said
Mr Inglis, who has also supported humanitarian efforts in Nepal, including arranging prosthetic legs for Sherpas who have fallen victim to frostbite, said the humanitarian achievements of Sir Edmund are enshrined in Nepal.
"When you go into little shops in Kathmandu, when you go into little tea houses right up through the Kumbher, right through Nepal - they will have a photo of the King and right beside it, they will have a photo of Sir Ed.
In people's houses, they will have a photo of Sir Ed and that really opens your eyes to the esteem in which they hold him," Mr Inglis said.
He said Sir Edmund's approach to the local people was not "you need" but "what do you need?".
"He listened to the people and that's the biggest difference.
"Sir Ed is the nearest thing we have to royalty and I think the country will react in a similar way," Mr Inglis said.
He said the criticism that he received from Sir Edmund after his Everest climbing party passed the dying climber David Sharpe was not an issue between the pair.
"That was a fairly hectic time after Everest in 2006 and I haven't really got any comment on that," Mr Inglis said.
He said it is important to remember the Hillary family who he sends his commiserations to.