Sir Edmund Hillary dies aged 88
Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, has died aged 88.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark described the explorer as a heroic figure and said all New Zealanders would deeply mourn his passing.
Sir Edmund's health had reportedly been in decline since April, when he suffered a fall while visiting Nepal.
He was the first man to climb the 8,850m (29,035ft) peak with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953.
Since his ascent, Sir Edmund has devoted his life to helping the Sherpas of Nepal's Khumbu region. He was made an honorary Nepalese citizen in 2003.
Announcing Sir Edmund's death on Friday, New Zealand's prime minister described him as a "heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility and generosity".
"The legendary mountaineer, adventurer, and philanthropist is the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived," Ms Clark said.
"But most of all he was a quintessential Kiwi."
"He was ours - from his craggy appearance to laconic style to his directness and honesty. All New Zealanders will deeply mourn his passing."
Born 19 July 1919, in Auckland, New Zealand, Sir Edmund served as a pilot during World War II and earned renown as an ice climber.
In the 1980s he also served as New Zealand's ambassador to India. ( BBC )