Aaron Halstead's Tribute

Samuel Butler wrote:
"To die completely, a person must not only forget but be forgotten, and he who is not forgotten is not dead".

Gottlieb was a man who lived his life to the full every day. Anyone who knew him respected his strength, his conviction and his passions. He was a man who worked as hard as any. He valued his family, his friends, his clients but mostly he valued the gifts he was given. Those gifts were characterised by the Prime Minister last week when she spoke of his passion for the mountains, his skill at leading others, his intellect and his warmth as a good friend.

Gottlieb came to New Zealand in 1978. His first work here was as a teacher at Linwood High School. Coming from Munich where he taught physics at the university, he brought something special to his students. He never lost that.

Gottlieb was one of New Zealand’s most famous guides. This was in part to high profile clients but it was mostly due to his skill and his individualism. He and Anne established their own guiding company and guided many people throughout the south island on walks and over the Ball Pass.

He spent 46 years of his life climbing and skiing mountains in New Zealand, Europe, Patagonia and Alaska. He was recognised as Macpac Mountaineer of the Year in 1993 after he and his climbing partner Erica Beuzenberg completed a winter ascent on Cerro Fitzroy in South America. For 36 years he was an accomplished professional mountain guide. He qualified as an IFMGA mountain guide with the German Mountain Guides Association. He was a president of the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association, a guide assessor who believed in very high standards, and was instrumental in establishing New Zealand membership in the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations.

He was also known for his personal interests. Gottlieb volunteered his time to the Aoraki Conservation Board. Passionate about the mountains, he believed in protecting the environment, especially around the Lake Tekapo area where he was concerned about the outcomes of selling land around the lake. His photography documented his love of nature and he loved to share a walk with others to see that natural beauty.

We who will continue guiding and sharing the mountains with others can only look back at our time with him as something special.

As we say good bye, I am left with a last thought about Gottlieb’s professionalism. He spent a fantastic day with his clients enjoying the skiing and the fresh powder. He got them back to the Rex Simpson hut ensuring their safety. Right to the very end he was a role model and a true professional.

Speaking for the NZMGA and myself, we are all a bit worse off for his loss. He will be missed.


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