The Wanaka pilot killed in a helicopter crash near Queenstown on Thursday was a humble, kind man who would do anything for others and who loved God and family above all else, his devastated wife and friends say.
Steve Combe, 42, died alongside James Patterson-Gardner, 18, of Queenstown, when the helicopter in which they were travelling crashed in the Lochy River basin in the Eyre Mountains, southwest of Queenstown.
Both men worked for Queenstown helicopter company Over the Top.
On Friday, Mr Combe's wife Stephanie, a pilates instructor and national co-ordinator of Trauma Release New Zealand, paid an emotional tribute to her husband, the father of her two sons, Alexander, 12, and Joseph, 7.
''He was not just my husband and kids' dad, but my best friend. Larger than life, so warm, [he] loved his family to pieces.
''He would want everyone to know that God loves them. This kept him going during difficult times.
''He leaves a legacy of faith [and] touched people's lives.
''He believed being a great man isn't about doing great acts but rather small individual acts of kindness.''
Passionate about the outdoors, especially climbing and long-distance trail running, Mr Combe ran in the 2011 Challenge Wanaka long-distance triathlon wearing a Wonder Woman costume to raise money for his friend Margie Gillam, who had cancer.
He gave rides to hitchhikers and once picked up a cyclist on the Crown Range who was battling heat exhaustion.
''Steve brought him to Wanaka. He would always stop and help people ... [he had a] kind, merciful heart.''
Tributes also flowed from Mr Combe's friends, who spoke highly of his caring nature and his devotion to his faith as a member of Wanaka's New Life Church.
John Masters said Mr Combe was a humble man who loved God and was ''never afraid to share his heart, his feelings, his fears with others''.
Phil Smith respected Mr Combe ''most especially for his commitment to family and a faith he was prepared to share with others''.
Mr Smith's wife, Kathy Dedo, remembered Mr Combe's ''infectious smile and engaging warmth''.
''You couldn't stay in a bad mood around him. He was a gift to his family, friends, and the community.''
Duncan Faulkner was introduced to flying by Mr Combe, whom he described as an ''amazing bloke'' and an ''incredibly experienced and safe pilot''.
''He was a true gentleman. He would genuinely go to the end of the earth for anyone and just always wanted to see the good in everything and ... in everyone he met.''
Wanaka Helicopters owner and Mr Combe's former employer, Simon Spencer-Bower, said: ''Steve was a true gentleman, always bending over backwards to help anyone and everyone. ''He ... was a superb pilot and flight instructor, always patient, caring and totally professional.''
Mr Combe was born in South Africa and raised in Britain.
He was an aid worker for Food For The Hungry in Rwanda and was so moved by what he saw he joined the Royal Marines, became a pilot and served in Iraq, Kosovo and Sierra Leone.
In September 2003, he left the Marines and moved to Wanaka with his wife and baby, to follow their dream of living and raising a family in New Zealand.
Mr Patterson-Gardner was the son of Over the Top chief executive officer Louisa (Choppy) Patterson.
She is understood to be inconsolable.
Mr Patterson-Gardner's father, Murray, is understood to have travelled from Canterbury and is staying in Queenstown.
Tributes have flowed for the former St Andrew's College pupil, including from Prime Minister John Key, who had met the teen on several visits to Queenstown.
St Andrew's College rector Christine Leighton said in a statement yesterday Mr Patterson-Gardner was a ''wonderful young man with a life of opportunity ahead of him''.
''He was popular with all students he came into contact with and was an energetic house leader, and passionate skier.
''We couldn't speak more highly of him. His tragic death is mourned by our school community and our hearts go out to his family at this sad time.''
He had been about to head off to Sydney University to study aeronautical engineering.
He was a boarder at the college for five years.
Mr Combe was a strong supporter of Wanaka charity runner Mal Law in his High Five-O Challenge for mental health.
The Combe family has asked for contributions to be made in lieu of flowers to Mr Combe's fundraising page.