On a pool table at a Fox Glacier pub, a variety of drinks were arranged alongside the words "RIP Boys", as locals remembered their friends killed in Saturday's fiery plane crash.

A few hundred metres away, the bodies of pilot Chaminda "Chami" Senadhira, 33, skydive masters Rod Miller, 55, Adam Bennett, 47, Michael Suter, 32, and Christopher McDonald, 62, lay in the wreckage of the Skydive New Zealand plane that crashed in a ball of flames at the edge of the Fox Glacier airstrip just after it took off at 1.15pm.

Tourists Patrick Byrne, 26, from County Wexford, Ireland, Glenn Bourke, 18, from Coburg, Victoria, Australia, Annita Kirsten, 23, from Germany, and Brad Coker, 24, from Farnborough, England, were also killed.

Michael Strachan, 31, told the Herald the dead crew were all "fun-loving, really nice people".

He saw them nearly every day when the team from Skydive NZ came into the cafe where he worked. "They loved [their jobs]. There wasn't anything else they wanted to do."

The last time he saw them was late last week.

They ordered mostly the same thing, so he knew what to prepare.

"A takeaway pizza, fettuccine, and bits and pieces. Rod [Miller] is a vegetarian, so his pizzas are made the way he likes it."

On Saturday night, the crash victims' favourite drinks were laid out on a pool table close to the site of the tragedy as the community came together to mourn, Mr Strachan said.

Everyone finished work early so they could come together. Someone laid out the drinks on the pool table alongside the RIP message .

He wasn't sure what other tributes were planned for the New Zealanders.

"The whole town's at a standstill, everything's just stopped."

Mr Strachan said some of the cafe staff were unable to come to work because they were too upset.

In Melbourne, the family of Glenn Bourke described him as a budding paramedic with a lust for adventure.

The teenager was on his first overseas trip, and had already been bungy jumping and whitewater rafting.

He was on the aircraft to make what would have been his first parachute jump.

He was also about to begin the next phase of his life, a training course to become a paramedic.

"I've always told the kids they've got to follow their dreams. I've never worried when they're away," said his mother Karen Bourke.

One of Glenn's sisters, Kelly, said she had encouraged him to make the trip.

"I told him that New Zealand was amazing and he should do it."

Back at Fox Glacier, Mr Strachan said he was at home when he saw the plane fall from the sky.

"It went behind the barn, and then we saw a plume of black smoke."

He knew at once it would be his friends on board. "We heard someone scream from next door that the skydiving plane had gone down."

Detective Sergeant Jackie Adams of Greymouth said the victims were so badly burned that members of the police disaster victim identification team were called in to assist.

The same team went to Thailand to identify victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Mr Adams said no one would o have answers on the crash cause for a while.

"We have been speaking to the eyewitness ... Apparently there was an explosion and the plane did catch alight."

Mr Adams was last night trying to track down a group of tourists who were to have been on the doomed flight, but had allowed the other visitors to board in front of them.

The detective said they all knew one another and wanted to skydive together so the let the others go ahead.

"They should be going to buy a Lotto ticket now."

Late yesterday afternoon, investigators from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission and the Civil Aviation Authority were at the disaster scene as the bodies were removed.

Commission investigator Ian McClelland said they might be limited in what they found at the site because of the extent of the destruction.

John Kerr, a director of Skydive New Zealand, said his staff were devastated and numb.

Skydive had operated since 1997 and had had a 100 per cent safety record.

In recent years, it had completed about 4800 jumps a year.