A friend of helicopter pilot Steve Askin, who died fighting the Port Hills fire, says he was a charismatic and forthright man who loved an adrenaline rush.
Mr Askin - a former SAS Corporal - will be farewelled at a funeral in Christchurch this afternoon, after his helicopter crashed last week.
Online fundraising efforts for the 37-year-old's family have already raised more than $220,000.
A friend of Mr Askin, Liam, said the response showed how much he was loved.
"It was shocking, but I think Steve lived at high speed in anything he did. You know, his brother was saying yesterday 'if you weren't on the edge of death, you weren't living'. So that was quite true with Stevie, he loved feeling alive, and a little bit of danger helps."
He said Mr Askin's family was holding up well, considering the high profile nature of the tragedy.
Some of Mr Askin's firefighting colleagues might not be able to attend his funeral this afternoon, because they have to keep working to contain the Port Hills blaze.
Fellow pilot Alan Beck said most of the pilots would attend Mr Askin's funeral, if they could get away from their fire-fighting duties.
Mr Beck said they would not be able to dress formally.
"We're going like this because we don't have any other clothes, we came down ready to fight a fire. So I don't have my suit, nobody else has clean clothes. We're just going to go there as firefighters. If the conditions get too bad here, Steve's family would understand that we have to stop here and fight this fire."
Mr Beck said Mr Askin's death would not hit them until the fire was out and the situation had calmed down.