Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Duncan Field is leaving the position this week, after more than 12 years in the job.
Mr Field was not reappointed after his contract expired late last year.
Hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday night to pay tribute to Mr Field, whom mayor Clive Geddes described as the ultimate public service man.
Mr Field says he's philosopical about leaving.
Debra Lawson from Britain will take over as chief executive in March.