A man who collapsed and died on the shore of the Shotover River yesterday was "doing something he loved".
Moana-Roa 'Chief' Haare, 62, died shortly after his boat overturned in what's known as the 'Toilet' rapid.
Mr Haare had been working for Queenstown Rafting since 1996.
Rafting operations manager Guido Leek said Mr Haare was a "legend".
"You can't get more experienced than he was, especially on that river. He was someone doing something he loved. He loved that river - he rafted year-round," Mr Leek said.
"You never saw Chief grumpy or having a bad day he was always happy. He kept on rafting time after time, day after day, year after year."
Head rafting guide Michel Lepage said Mr Haare was so well-known and loved in the wider rafting community that tributes had come in from all over the world.
"We would get customers coming in to the office asking for Chief. We'd say 'do you know him' and they'd say no they'd just heard of him and wanted to meet him - he was such a legend in the industry."
Mr Lepage said Mr Haare was always the first to offer to come in on busy weekends, and was always going out of his way for people.
Mr Leek said not only was he a chief of the river, but an amazing pool player.
"We used to joke and call him the pool shark because he was just such a brilliant player. He was also a fantastic musician. Chief would sit in the corner and play for us at lunch sometimes. We'd all just listen - he'd have that guitar humming."
Queenstown Rafting had suspended operations until further notice, and a special tribute was being planned for Mr Haare.