A Taupo man who drew up a bucket list of 14 things to achieve before he died used to joke that he had made it two years past his use-by date.
Darrell Cottle, 39, who also made it his mission to raise awareness of melanoma and sun safety, died in Taupo last Thursday morning.
Mr Cottle, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009, was originally given between six months and two years to live after developing lesions on his lungs from a melanoma on his neck.
The former DJ drew up a bucket list including getting married, sailing, swimming with sharks and power boating, and by the time of his death, had ticked off most of them.
He had also become a dad to son Kyan, now 2.
But his greatest mission was to spread the word about melanoma and as part of that he formed a company called Melanoma Awareness New Zealand and spoke to as many people as he could about the importance of being sun smart.
He visited schools around the upper North Island and drove around in a specially-painted Melanoma Awareness car.
He also featured on TV2 documentary programme 20/20.
Mr Cottle's parents Toni and Pauline Cottle and sister Joy said Mr Cottle was proud of having outlived his diagnosis and used to boast that he was two years past his use-by date.
Mrs Cottle said her son was incredibly courageous throughout his illness.
"He had a lot of pain, but that didn't stop him."
He did his best to shield his family from the worst of his illness and the pain that he was enduring, said Mr Cottle's sister Joy.
"He fought to the bitter end for us, to protect us.
"What we're finding out today is the hundreds of people that he's touched that are making tributes to him and contacting us and telling us how he helped them."
Mr Cottle's memorial service is to be held in Taupo tomorrow.