A skier who died on Ruapehu was always chasing more adventures and pushing the limits, a longtime friend says.

Richard "Richie" Ebbett's friend Nick Reader says his mate was "a multi-dimensional guy" who was always looking for the next thing.

Ebbett, 39, of Taupo, was found by searchers in the lake near the top of Mt Ruapehu on Saturday morning.

The police say the indications are that he accidentally fell into the lake.

Advertisement

There are steep ice cliffs on the northern side of the lake, the side closest to the routes up to the summit area from Whakapapa ski field.

Reader said he was running motocross events through his business Epic Events when he met Ebbett in the mid-2000s.

Ebbett would set up an on-site service tuning up motorcyclists' suspension and the pair became friends.

Reader said Ebbett, a father of a young son, was "pretty unique, pretty remarkable".

"He never had a bad word to say about anyone and he always thought the best of anyone and any situation. He was overwhelmingly positive."

Ebbett, known as Richie, was involved in many things.

"He would be doing snow skiing and mountain biking and boot camp and riding his flipping big adventure bike down in the Southern Alps.

"He definitely was an adventurer. The amounts of invites you got to go adventuring with him was crazy.

"He pushed the limits with his speed on a mountain bike or a motorbike.

"I've had my share of crashes and I've backed off quite a bit but he was always really pushing, trying to find those boundaries.

"He really lived in terms of getting out and getting active. He wasn't on the sidelines, he wasn't an observer, he was an active participant."

But beneath the tough, physically capable persona was a man with a soft heart who had real empathy and didn't shy away from philosophical discussions or conversations about how people were feeling, Reader said.

"Most guys don't have that softness and don't display that, but he was happy to.

"When he listened, he really listened. He actually stopped and you could tell that he genuinely was listening to what you said and you had the sense that he really cared."

In 2001, the police said an 18-month-old girl would have died if not for Ebbett's quick action.

He leaped from a moving van to save her when she was caught up in an accident near Kawhia.

A tractor towing a trailer with four children on it crashed into a ditch. The driver died instantly, the Manawatu Evening Standard reported.

Ebbett, a passenger in a van, saw the accident and leapt out to help while the van was still moving. The eldest child was on the bank. Ebbett freed two children who were trapped, then spotted the youngest in the ditch.

"I saw a little baby upside-down in the water. Immediately after we pulled it out it started crying."

Playing down his role, he said: "The instincts took over. I just knew I had to help. Anyone in that situation would have done the same thing."

Reader said Mr Ebbett's legacy would be one of optimism, positivity and taking care of each other.

"There will be a lot of people that will strive to carry on a lot of his traits."