Backpackers staying at a downtown Tauranga hostel say the alleged murder of English tourist Grace Millane is "heartbreaking" but they still feel safe in New Zealand.

Autumn McDonald, Morgan Blankenship and Megann Wall have been in the country since September working with a Christian organisation called Youth With A Mission.

The women were staying at Art House Accommodation and said watching the story about Millane's death unravel this week had been sad but they hoped it did not deter others from visiting New Zealand.

Wall, a 20-year-old from Canada, said the killing had not come up in discussion at the hostel this week but she had spoken to a "shaken up" girl who was staying at the same central Auckland hostel Millane was at the night she went missing.


Wall said she felt for Millane but she did not feel unsafe herself.

"It's not travelling or backpacking that killed her, it was just a really bad situation," she said.

American visitor Blankenship, 26, agreed.

She said anyone who felt like they could not travel to New Zealand was operating out of fear, and they would miss out on eye-opening experiences.

Blankenship said the backpacking community in New Zealand was special as there was a real sense of community that enveloped people travelling alone.

"I've never felt unsafe here," she said.

McDonald, a 20-year-old Canadian, said an entire country could not be judged by one horrible incident.

She said it was New Zealand's natural landscapes and friendly reputation that attracted her to visit and that had not changed.


McDonald also felt safe in New Zealand, but Millane's death had reminded her to still be aware of safety and go with her gut if she ever felt uneasy about a situation.

Art House Accommodation manager Shawna Ryan, 25, had lived in Tauranga for five years and agreed the alleged murder was a timely reminder to be careful.

Ryan, originally from Ireland, said she had spoken to English guests this week who were "really upset" by the news.

"I hope this doesn't stop people from travelling here. New Zealand is a safe and beautiful country and what happened to Grace was really unfortunate."

Remembering Grace Millane:

Public vigils for the 22-year-old English tourist have been held around the country this week.
A candlelit vigil was held on The Strand in Tauranga last night and a Mount Maunganui vigil is scheduled for today from 8pm by the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service.