A Northland mum desperately calling for help through social media for sightings of her missing 15-year-old daughter says she was helped by young men she has dubbed "heroes".
Whangārei Girls' High School student Nicky Sheath went missing on March 18 and was last seen getting into a car with a man in his 20s outside Countdown supermarket in Kensington.
About 9.30pm on Tuesday - a week after Sheath went missing - she was returned home to her family by three young men who had spotted her walking on the main street of Kumeu, 25km northwest of the Auckland City centre.
Mum Denese Gallagher said she was relieved to get her daughter home safe and was overwhelmed by the love she had been shown across the internet.
"I'm so grateful for all the love and support people have given me. There has been nothing short of about 50 people, strangers and friends, sending me messages every day offering their help and support. It kept me going as this is a really hard thing to go through."
Since Sheath had been returned Gallagher had learned her daughter was spotted by three Aucklanders while they were driving in Kumeu about 6pm on Tuesday.
"They stopped and asked her if she was the missing girl on Facebook and when she said yes they offered her a ride to Whangārei."
Coincidentally, a man in the street had also recognised Sheath from Facebook, saw her getting in a vehicle and contacted Gallagher, who immediately alerted police and gave them details of the car.
"The driver had just got his full license that day and was cruising with some mates when they saw Nicky. They must have decided they wanted to do a road trip to Northland and I couldn't be more grateful. They are heroes for returning my girl.
"The first thing I wanted to do was give him a hug but couldn't because of coronavirus."
Instead the Aucklanders were given a generous koha. Gallagher said she had been in touch with their parents and said when lockdown was over and things had returned to normal she would take the keen hunters to Gisborne to going hunting, fishing and diving with her cousins.
Gallagher said the lockdown gave her the perfect opportunity to sit down with her daughter and talk through her future plans.