As dog walkers and locals enjoyed the last of Thursday's sunlight at the summit of Mt Albert, detectives worked studiously on a small footpath nearby - a much more sobering scene - trying to determine how a woman's body came to rest there.
Police believe it to be that of local woman Lena Zhang Harrap, 27, who was often seen walking up the maunga alone - her independence praised because Harrap had Down syndrome and impaired vision.
She left her house Wednesday morning around 6am, and police say it's likely she ventured from Jersey Ave along Richardson Rd, before turning up Grande Ave, where she was last sighted on CCTV at around 7.30am.
She never returned home. Her disappearance prompted an hours-long police search before a member of the public discovered a woman's body on a narrow track connecting Grande Ave with Summit Drive around 4.30pm yesterday.
On Thursday, the results of a post mortem examination led police to launch a homicide investigation, believing the 130cm-tall woman was the victim of foul play.
"Lena was a young lady, she was small in stature. She was vulnerable and whoever the offender or offenders are, have targeted a vulnerable member of our community, which is just appalling," said Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe.
"We are determined to get to the bottom of this investigation and identify any person or persons who is responsible for her death."
Police have released images of a person of interest.
They want to speak to a man who was captured on CCTV walking along Grande Ave shortly after 7.30am. They said the man will help with the investigation, but they have "no idea" who he is.
He is described as dark-skinned with a receding hairline and a distinctive mark on his forehead. He was wearing a blue hoodie.
Anyone who saw him or Harrap that day, or anyone who has CCTV of the area, is urged to contact police.
Police will continue to knock on doors and survey the area, Pascoe said.
Just 24 hours after the body was tragically discovered, flowers and heartfelt notes had been placed at the edge of the footpath and the entrance to the mountain - a manifestation of the love the Mt Albert community has for Harrap and her family.
Harrap was greatly connected to her neighbourhood. Many saw her frequently walking along Jersey Ave, up Mt Albert and New North Rd and would greet her.
Harrap was "a beautiful, funny and delightful soul", Michelle McGee said.
"My heart is aching at this moment for her and her family.
"She has touched so many other people's lives like she did my own and my children, just with her presence or the soft-spoken lady she was."
Harrap attended Lynfield College and loved Star Jam classes, a former classmate told the Herald.
Alex Pervan remembered Harrap's flair in cooking class, PE and for finding her way around places independently.
Her death has shocked the disability community.
"This is absolutely devastating news, and our community are currently coming to terms with it," UpsideDowns told the Herald.
"UpsideDowns is currently working with the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association and the Auckland Down Syndrome Association on next steps."
Mt Albert residents have been assured police are doing all they can to make them feel safe.
"We know the local community will be shocked and saddened. As a result we've increased reassurance patrols in the area, as well as having our investigations staff doing door-to-door enquiries," said Pascoe.
Anyone with CCTV is urged to contact the Operation Daleyza investigation team by phoning 0800 325 399 (0800 DALEYZA).
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area around Grande Ave, Summit Drive or the Ōwairaka Domain on Wednesday morning is asked to contact police on 0800 325 399.