Property and infrastructure general manager Pete Hansby died on Saturday aged 55, after a short illness.
Acting council chief executive Meaghan Miller said Mr Hansby had two stints with the council.
The first was from 1994 to 2004, during which time he held roles including consents and roading engineer, and was a Civil Defence local controller and a critical part of the team that responded to the 1999 Queenstown floods.
He then moved to Christchurch City Council’s City Care Ltd, and became southern regional general manager, before being appointed City Care’s emergency response manager following the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.
Ms Miller said he had recently said it had been a period in his career that had prepared him for any future challenge, "no matter how big".
Mr Hansby then took on a short but critical job with Aecom as Christchurch Rebuild director, in 2013, before returning to the Queenstown Lakes District Council in 2014 as infrastructure general manager, later extending his responsibility to include property.
He had been a "tireless campaigner for improving the way people lived, worked, travelled and played" in the district, Ms Miller said.
He had been a key member of the Ka Huanui a Tahuna Project alliance board, and an "enormously respected and valued member of the QLDC executive leadership team".
Mr Hansby latterly spearheaded Queenstown’s CBD street upgrades project, which was nearing completion.
"If there is one small comfort we can all take from Pete’s loss it is that his legacy can be seen right around the district in the multitude of projects he was very proud to deliver," Ms Miller said.
"He was passionate about his work ... the Queenstown Lakes district and enormously proud of his family."
She said the council family, and many who had worked with Mr Hansby over his 35-year career, were "deeply saddened by the loss of a special colleague and, for many, a true mate".
Mr Hansby was farewelled in a private service yesterday. He is survived by his wife, Felicity, and daughters Madi and Gracie.