‘Awesome’ engineer found dead after rock climbing trip was ‘up to the best’

Matthias Kerkmann, 54, was found dead on Monday after a rock climbing trip to Peraki Bay on the Banks Peninsula - a trip he has made without incident on several occasions.  He lived in Lincoln, south of Christchurch.

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Matthias Kerkmann, 54, was found dead on Monday after a rock climbing trip to Peraki Bay on the Banks Peninsula – a trip he has made without incident on several occasions. He lived in Lincoln, south of Christchurch.

A mountaineer found dead after his disappearance was an “awesome” design engineer and a highly skilled climber, according to his family and colleagues.

Matthias Kerkmann, 54, failed to return home after his rock climbing trip to Peraki on the Banks Peninsula in Canterbury on Sunday, prompting an emergency response that evening.

Searchers were hampered by the darkness and poor weather conditions, but her body was found around 10.45am on Monday morning. His death was referred to the coroner.

Climbing was Kerkmann’s “whole life” and took him all over the world, his wife Jane Kerkmann said.

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He was a sure climber with more than 40 years of experience and rarely took risks, she said.

“He was an honorable man who believed in doing things right…he would do anything for his family.”

Jane was his ‘Galway girl’, the pair having met in the Irish town when they both worked there in 2002. They had a son, now 12.

Kerkmann, originally from Germany, died of a fall, but the circumstances of his death remain unclear.

He usually climbed with a partner, but not on weekends because it was a “spur of the moment” decision, his wife said.

“It was in his blood. He often said that his fingers tingled from climbing just by looking at the rocks.

Kerkmann had been on a rock climbing trip to Peraki Bay on the Banks Peninsula when he did not return on Sunday evening.  (File photo).

Mike Crean / Stuff

Kerkmann had been on a rock climbing trip to Peraki Bay on the Banks Peninsula when he did not return on Sunday evening. (File photo).

The six climbing routes in the Peraki Valley include a range of levels, including multi-pitch routes that require advanced climbing skills. They range from 30 meters to 75 meters in length, according to ClimbNZ.

Kerkmann, who lived in Lincoln, had worked at engineering firm Wyma Solutions for the past 12 years, and managing director Andrew Barclay described him as an eccentric German with a shrewd sense of humor who was “at the height of the best” in both designs. engineering and climbing.

He was an experienced and confident climber and mountaineer who had soloed Mount Aspiring in cold winter conditions on several occasions, Barclay said.

“Something must have gone wrong.”

Kerkmann was “the epitome of German precision – structured, precise and methodical” in his work and personal life, Barclay said.

“He has designed a number of machines that we sell around the world and he has managed some of our largest and most complex projects.”

He planned and charted every aspect of his life, including his work projects, climbing assignments, and social plans, and had a counter on his work computer screen counting down to his retirement.

Kerkmann was well-liked and respected in Wyma offices in New Zealand and overseas, and the company received an avalanche of messages after people learned of his death, Barclay said.

“He had lots of friends and was a family man. He was one hell of a nice guy and really well liked…he will be sorely missed.

A quote from Kerkmann himself on Wyma’s website reads: “Having face-to-face conversations is important in our industry; When you know people and their challenges well, you can contribute so much more.

“I love going out and seeing our customers in Europe and being on the ground.”

Originally trained as an engineer in Germany, Kerkmann worked in the renewable energy sector in Australia’s Northern Territory in the mid-2000s.

A keen rock climber and mountaineer, an offer to move to New Zealand in 2007 was the perfect opportunity.

He met Barclay in 2010 and the duo soon found themselves working together, with Kerkmann quickly becoming a senior member of Wyma’s project management team.

Former colleague Jeremy Prendeville worked with Kerkmann for several years at Wyma and Xerox, and said he was a “very smart engineer”.

“I found his humor dry and more of an IQ test than most humor I’m used to.”

Kerkmann was “actually a bit of a genius,” Prendeville said.

“He was the real genius design engineer. He was tough and could be amazing.

“It was a credit to the character of Matthias that he wasn’t more arrogant than he was, because he had some amazing wit aspects that I think would make most people more arrogant than him.”

A private funeral for Kerkmann will be held next week, followed by a public celebration of his life, Kerkmann’s wife said.

Virginia F. Goins