A former Queenstown restaurateur killed on flight MH17 was returning from his honeymoon.
Belgian Benedict Chardome, 51, was flying back to his home to Bali, Indonesia, after a honeymoon in the United States and Europe with his Malaysian husband Puput.
The couple had married in Antwerp in June.
Chardome – known in Queenstown as Bathhouse Ben after owning The Bathhouse restaurant on Queenstown Bay – was one of 298 people who perished when the Malaysian Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
The popular restaurateur lived in New Zealand for a decade before moving to Bali, where he lived for the past six years.
Friends have paid tribute to Mr Chardome, who also owned Brecon Street restaurant Pasta Pasta and a Belgian beer café on Shotover Street.
Queenstown restaurateur Tony Robertson says: “It’s come as quite a shock.
“It brings home to you just how small the world is and how fragile our existence on it is.
“He was always ebullient, a glass-is-half-full person, and a consummate professional at his job.
“He loved working front of house and was really good at it. Very good to his staff; they were loyal to him, and he gave a start to quite a few of the newer restaurateurs in town – who worked through the ranks at his restaurants.
“They’ll be a lot of people in town affected by his death.”
Chardome was a member of international gastronomic society The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
“Ben was immensely proud of his membership,” Robertson says. “He had a great passion for wines and food.”
Chardome had been recalled for work in Bali and Puput remained in Switzerland with friends.
Puput wrote on Mr Chardome’s Facebook page: “I love you my honey bunny.
“You were not only my companion. Also you were a teacher for me. I will never forget your beautiful smile and your face always happy.”
Chardome was maître d’ at Parnell restaurant Iguacu for two years in the 1990s before moving to Queenstown.