Details of the state funeral for Sir Edmund Hillary may not be known for several days.
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Sir Ed, who became New Zealand's most celebrated hero when he was the first man to climb Mt Everest in 1953, died in Auckland around 9am yesterday from a heart attack which followed a long period of ill health.
The Government has offered and Sir Ed's family has accepted a State funeral.
While some pre-planning by police and Government around a possible state funeral has taken place Prime Minister Helen Clark said the wishes of the Hillary family would be paramount in determining how Sir Edmund is to be farewelled.
Miss Clark told Radio New Zealand discussions about the exact nature of the funeral would be held over the weekend.
"My desire at all times has been to see Sir Ed's, Lady Hillary and the family's wishes respected. What they want is what will happen."
Auckland mayor John Banks says Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, which can accommodate more than 1000 people, may be the venue.
In Sir Edmund Hillary's 88 years, he conquered the world's highest mountain, stood on both poles, built schools and hospitals for impoverished Nepalese, faced the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter, and endured 54 years of international fame.
The lanky, industrious beekeeper-turned-adventurer, who earned his place in history as the first person to stand on the top of the world, created a legacy which New Zealanders celebrated yesterday while absorbing the news that the hero on the $5 note was dead.
The Queen is said to be "very saddened" by Sir Ed's death.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen was sending a personal message of sympathy to his widow and family.
New Zealanders - leaders, luminaries and the everyday Kiwis Sir Ed claimed to represent and embody - have paid tribute to the man Prime Minister Helen Clark called the most famous New Zealander to have lived.
They all said the same thing in different ways: that Sir Ed's place as this country's mountain-conquering trailblazer, an inspiration to generations of schoolchildren, would never be replicated.
"Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities. In reality, he was a colossus," Miss Clark said.
Many Kiwis, such as William Ronaldson, wrote yesterday on news websites of their personal encounters with Sir Ed.
"I remember when I was about nine years old I did a school project on him and wrote him a letter. He replied with a hand-written three- page letter which I still have."
As a boy, the young Edmund Percival Hillary travelled by train for four hours a day to attend Auckland Grammar School, reading books about adventurers on the way.
He would become a beekeeper in the family business, but his athleticism and determination would lead him to a life of extraordinary yet humble achievement.
He once wrote: "I discovered that even the mediocre can have adventures and even the fearful can achieve. I had the world beneath my clumsy boots."
He and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquered the highest mountain in the world on May 29, 1953. Sir Ed was 33 at the time and about to become world famous.
In January 1958, Sir Ed reached the South Pole driving a modified Ferguson tractor, in the first party to reach the pole by land since 1912.
In 1964, Sir Ed established the Himalayan Trust through which he worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the Nepalese people, who knew him as Burra Sahib, which means Big In Heart.
Tragically, his first wife, Louise, and younger daughter, Belinda, 16, were killed in an air crash in Nepal while visiting Sir Ed in 1975.
Sir Ed's last great adventure was a return to Antarctica last year, aged 87, for the 50th anniversary of Scott Base.
Yesterday, flags flew at half-mast on The Ice.
Even when he wasn't actively making history, Sir Ed's life collided with the story of this nation.
His life story wove around defining moments in New Zealand history, from his service as an air force navigator in World War II, to the loss of his friend Peter Mulgrew in the Erebus disaster in 1979, and his appointment as New Zealand high commissioner to India, where he continued his work to improve relations with the subcontinent after former prime minister Robert Muldoon's stoush with his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi.
Later in life, Sir Ed married Mulgrew's widow, June.
The manner in which Sir Ed's various adventures were documented over the years illustrated one of the ways the world changed throughout his long life.
Sir Ed's return to base camp from his Everest ascent in 1953 was famously captured on grainy black and white film and news of it was withheld for four days so the announcement could coincide with the coronation of the Queen on June 2 of that year. Sir Ed was knighted on June 6.
Fifty-four years later, international websites flashed banner headlines and the Western world's largest news organisations broke into their scheduled programming to send news of his death globally. Internet users worldwide left tributes to him online.
Sir Ed spoke about death and a potential final resting place in his 1999 memoir View from the Summit.
If Sir Ed's musings bear out, his ashes will come to rest in Auckland, where he was born in 1919, and near the small rural community of Tuakau where the early years of his extraordinary life were passed.
"I've never had any desire to end my days at the bottom of a deep crevasse - I've been down too many of them for that to have much appeal: I'm a somewhat fearful person and would prefer to go peacefully if that were possible.
"I should even like my ashes to be spread on the beautiful waters of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, to be washed gently ashore maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place where I was born. Then the full circle of my life will be complete."
Sir Edmund Hillary is survived by his wife, June, and children Peter and Sarah.