Tribute to ‘extraordinary’ biker

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A Queenstowner who died in a motorbike crash on Sunday was generous, crazily intelligent and wonderfully quick-witted, his partner says.

Ben Petrie, who worked as a senior navigation technician for Airways at Queenstown Airport, died near Cape Reinga, Northland, while on a road trip with three of his best mates.

Partner Erin Morgan says there are no words to accurately describe the “extraordinary” 34-year-old.

The pair had spent a week in the Coromandel and Morgan said goodbye to him on Saturday before travelling back to Queenstown.

He went north with his friends.

Morgan says he was a really popular bloke, very funny, and loved his family and friends.

“He was comedy gold – it was a huge part of him.

“He’d have us cry-laughing with his antics or his wit. He absolutely loved making people laugh and he loved a good costume party and would always do something crazy for one.”

Petrie grew up in Dunedin, moving to Christchurch in his early 20s to complete his training.

He loved the outdoors and was often spotted cruising around the Nevis or Glenorchy on his motorbike or in his Land Rover.

Morgan says he was a bit of a science geek and tech boffin.

“One of his favourite things to do was research anything technical or science-based.

“He spent hours and hours watching documentaries and YouTubing really random stuff.”

Morgan, who has been his partner for 12-and-a-half years, says he was always tinkering in the workshop of their Fernhill home.

“He liked nothing better than creating and designing stuff – he was really creative as well as practical.”

The couple moved to Queenstown in 2013 partly to be closer to Ben’s grandparents Merle and Bill Johnston, who live in Cromwell.

It was also for his job servicing air traffic control electronics in Central Otago, Milford Sound and Invercargill.

Reflecting on those he’s left behind, she adds: “He was almost too caring.

“He was someone that just looked after everybody, he loved his family and friends and me.

“If there was anything he could do to help anyone else he would do it straight away.

“I just don’t know what I am going to do without him really.”

Petrie’s motorbike collided with a rental vehicle driven by a Canadian tourist.

Police say Petrie lost control on a bend – this was the fourth motorcycle crash on the same corner in as many months.

His funeral will take place in Christchurch on Sunday.

He is survived by parents Megan Johnston and Brett Petrie.

louise.scott@scene.co.nz