The crew member who died in an explosion aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship at Port Chalmers, near Dunedin, was from the Philippines, police say.
"The crewmember who died is a Filipino man and police are working with the cruise liner to support his family at this sad time," Inspector Jason Guthries said in a statement on Friday morning.
A gas canister is believed to have exploded on board the ship on Thursday afternoon. No one else was injured.
Police have completed their scene examination and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission is now dealing with the probe into the man's death.
The ship, which can carry 3080 passengers, was on a 12-night round trip from Sydney to destinations in New Zealand.
It is believed the ship was not damaged in the explosion but it remained at Port Chalmers on Friday morning as the investigation continues.
Cruise operator Carnival Australia says it is deeply saddened by the crew member's death.
The ship's captain announced the death to passengers in a sombre message through the ship's intercom.
"I repeat my earlier announcement for those of you who didn't hear my announcement, as I know quite a few of you were ashore as we had a tragic incident occur this afternoon at approximately 17:10."
"One of my crew members was filling a nitrogen gas bottle ... and unfortunately one of the cylinders exploded, tragically killing the crew member.
"As the protocol requires, we are remaining alongside until an investigation is carried out."
Local Maritime Union worker Phil Adams says the explosion was massive.
"It was a hell of a bang," Mr Adams said.
"In this crazy world that we're living in at the moment, your natural reaction is that it's got to be an act of terrorism. That was the first thought."
Police will investigate the death on behalf on the coroner and say both WorkSafe NZ and Maritime NZ have been contacted.