Essex backpacker Joseph Snode dies in New Zealand car crash

Otira Highway in New Zealand
Joseph Snode, 26, died in a single vehicle on the Otira Highway, Jacksons, on 28 January

A 26-year-old British backpacker has died in a car crash in New Zealand.

Joseph Snode, 26, from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, died on his way to Christchurch, New Zealand, after seeing filming spots from Lord of the Rings.

His death came after four years spent working at the University of Buckingham to fund the once in a lifetime trip.

On a fundraising page, Mr Snode's mother Elaine wrote: "He was literally living his dream life before it was taken from him."

She said her son was "always full of life and a loving, caring, intelligent young man" who she described as "one in a billion".

She said he had been in Japan and met "his soulmate" in the weeks prior to the fatal crash, which involved a single vehicle on the Otira Highway, Jacksons, on 28 January.

'Pain and despair'

The 26-year-old had visited the Hobbiton movie set and other sites where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

"We had no idea these magical days were to be his final days in [New Zealand]," his mother wrote.

"Nothing can express the pain and despair that is being felt by his family and friends all over the world."

More than £9,000 has been pledged to the family to help pay for Mr Snode's funeral, ahead of his repatriation to the UK.

"We are helped by hearing all the wonderful stories and seeing the photos his many friends around the world are sharing with us," Ms Snode added.

One donor wrote: "It was a privilege and an honour to have known Joe. He brought so much happiness to this world."

A spokesperson for New Zealand Police said: "Our thoughts are with Mr Snode's friends and whānau (extended family group) during this difficult time."

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email