Police in Canterbury have identified the human remains found at the Tasman Glacier area of Mount Cook earlier this year.
They belonged to 19-year-old climber, David Erik Moen, who was caught in an avalanche on Mount Cook in September 1973.
He was killed, alongside Australian William Richards, 64, but his body was not found at the time.
His family have issued a statement saying they could not describe how it felt to have their loved one returned to them after more than 41 years.
They said Mr Moen had an infectious sense of humour and lived life to the full.
"David's spirit still remains in the beautiful, peaceful environment which claimed the life of a wonderful and dearly loved young man in the prime of his life," the statement said.
They said Mr Moen shared his love of the outdoors with other members of the family, and learned to climb at school where he was a Queen's Scout.
"He was a great outdoorsman, making his loss that much harder to comprehend."
Mr Moen was climbing with a acquaintance he met in Mt Cook Village when they were reported to have been caught in an avalanche on 16 September 1973.
A plaque has been placed on a memorial in Mt Cook village in his memory.
A Coroner's Inquest had previously been held into the death. Coroner David Crerar is now considering whether or not this should be reopened.
Canterbury Police Area Commander, Inspector Dave Gaskin, said another set of historic remains were found near the Hochstetter Glacier at the start of March.
He said it may take some time before they can be formally identified.