11 Dec 2018

Queenstowners hold vigil for British backpacker Grace Millane

10:02 pm on 11 December 2018

About a hundred people have turned out for the first candlelit vigil to remember British backpacker Grace Millane in Queenstown.

Organiser Amanda Morris sets up the vigil for Grace Millane in Queenstown.

Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

Miss Millane went missing on the eve of her 22nd birthday on 1 December and was last seen going into CityLife Hotel with a man.

A body was discovered last Sunday, in an area of bush just 10m off the road, in Auckland's Waitākere Ranges. The body has been removed the scene and is yet to be formally identified, but police believe it is the backpacker.

Locals and visitors gathered on the town's lakefront this evening to pay their respects to the Miss Millane.

Some lay flowers at a makeshift shrine at the foot of a tree, which included a photo of her and an English flag.

One young local, Kate Lambert said Miss Millane's death has had an impact in the busy tourist town.

"What's happened has been really devastating for everyone in New Zealand, because it's not something that would really happen here. I guess it's just hit us pretty hard and living in Queenstown, we know she would have wanted to come here."

Jess Bryan, who's living in Queenstown for the summer, said Miss Millane's death was heartbreaking.

"It could have been any one of us, I've travelled alone, I am constantly, it's just heartbreaking."

The organiser of the vigil, Amanda Morris, said she was amazed by the number of people who came, on a cool, rainy evening.

"Being a backpacker myself, coming from the UK, I just knew that people wanted to do something and they weren't sure what they could do.

"I just wanted to do it, so they could be part of it."

More vigils will be held in main centres around the country, including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin tomorrow.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

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