Napier truck driver Pikiora Lewis Jones died near Arthur's Pass yesterday when the truck he was driving plunged down a gorge.
The man's truck and trailer plummeted off the road on Otira Highway about 6.30am.
The truck and Mr Jones could not be recovered yesterday but his family hoped he would be brought back to Napier by the end of the week.
Mr Jones, known as Piki to his friends and family, had lived in Napier for more than 10 years, the last seven with his wife Robyn. He had two children from a previous relationship and a stepchild.
Neighbour Richard Edmunds said Mr Jones was a "meticulous" long-haul driver.
"I watched him leave on Sunday and he went around the whole truck checking all the lights," Mr Edmunds said.
"He was a really nice guy but I didn't see him that much. He was away more than he was here."
The weather yesterday morning was described as "appalling" by Greymouth Police.
Hokitika Sergeant Brett Cooper said the cause of the accident was still being investigated by the serious crash unit. Heavy lifting equipment had been brought in to recover the truck.
"The recovery will start today and we hope to complete it today," Mr Cooper said.
"It's very difficult circumstances. It's a very mountainous area with narrow steep gorges."
The police were working with the NZ Transport Agency, the trucking company and the insurance company. The highway was likely to be closed all day.
A spokesman for trucking firm, STL Linehaul, said he did not wish to comment while they were still recovering Mr Jones from the wreck, which he hoped would be done this morning.