Vicky Munro is upset she did not get more than 39 years of marriage.
Her husband, Roualeyn "Ronnie" Munro, died in Greymouth Hospital on Saturday following a jetboat accident near Haast the night before.
The Otematata farmer and volunteer firefighter was jetboating on the Waiatoto River with a group of friends when they hit a rock and flipped about 7pm on Friday.
The group were all wearing life jackets, but the impact threw everyone into the river, severely injuring Munro.
The 64-year-old was flown to Greymouth Hospital, where died the next day.
"He fought pretty well," Vicky Munro said.
"It's just something that went badly wrong."
Munro said her husband had been unwell for some time, but had rallied enough to go on the annual boating trip with friends.
"He was very much looking forward to going away on the jet boat," she said, adding search and rescue members did everything they could to help after the accident.
Ronnie Munro had known most of them personally through his work as deputy chief of the Otematata Volunteer Fire Brigade and Vicky Munro said his rescuers went "beyond the call of duty" for him.
A newly-wed Ronnie Munro had joined the volunteer fire brigade in 1976 after he and Vicky experienced a small fire at their first home.
The couple had been due to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary this coming Saturday.
"He was a really kind and generous man. It's a huge loss to our family as well as the community."
Munro had two adult children, David and Karen, and two grandchildren, Ella and Harry, who lived in Philadelphia.
"They were very much the light of his life," Vicky Munro said.
"He spoke to the grandchildren in America on the iPad and just adored them."
- The Press