World

NZ police find body in search for UK woman

By AAP Newswire

New Zealand police believe they have found the body of missing British backpacker Grace Millane.

Officers on Sunday were combing an area of bush near a road in the western outskirts of Auckland - about 25km from where the 22-year-old tourist was last spotted entering a central city hotel with a man on December 1.

Remains found at the scene had not been formally identified but were believed to be those of Ms Millane, Detective Inspector Scott Beard told the media on Sunday afternoon.

"Obviously, this brings the search for Grace to an end. It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them," he told reporters near the scene.

"The investigation will continue for some time yet. The focus now is to piece together exactly what happened to a young girl who came to New Zealand."

A post-mortem is expected to be carried out on Monday.

"We will be pleased to be giving Grace back to her family," Det Insp Beard said.

Police said a 26-year-old man seen with Ms Millane on the night of her disappearance had been charged with her murder and would appear in Auckland District Court on Monday.

Detectives have made an appeal for sightings of a red Toyota hatchback they say was rented in Auckland.

A week-long search for the Essex woman turned into a homicide probe this weekend, with officers earlier saying a scene examination at the CityLife Hotel and video footage had concluded she was no longer alive.

Ms Millane was on the second leg of a year-long trip around the world after graduating university.

After visiting Peru, she arrived alone in New Zealand last month and had been in touch with family and friends nearly daily until her disappearance.

Her father, David Millane, arrived in NZ on Friday, and made an emotional public appeal for help in finding Grace, who he described as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter".