Police investigating the disappearance of Whanganui woman Marice McGregor now believe she got into a car on the day she was last seen.
A purple strap with keys and a small teddy bear attached was found by a culvert on State Highway 4, about 26km from where Marice McGregor, 45, was last seen.
Ms McGregor was last seen on 19 April, and the strap, or lanyard, was found on 6 May by university students and handed in to police by a lecturer.
Detective Senior Sergeant Gwynne Pennell says Ms McGregor did not walk the distance between her car and where the lanyard was found, and it is believed she got into another vehicle the day she went missing.
She says the location of the lanyard is consistent with it having been thrown from a moving vehicle.
Ms Pennell told Checkpoint that, normally, keys get left in a box at the local police station but is grateful to the quick-thinking officer who made the crucial link that the keys belonged to Ms McGregor.
Police are still appealing for sightings of a green and silver Mitsubishi people-mover on 19 April and 20 April.