Detective Inspector Scott Beard walked from the scene where British backpacker Grace Millane's body was found in the Waitakere Ranges yesterday to deliver the news no parent wants to hear.

In a suit and tie, the visibly upset police officer addressed the media with a polite "good afternoon" before saying a body believed to be that of the missing 22-year-old had been found in a section of bush, just 10m off Scenic Drive.

The weight of delivering that news was obvious and had clearly struck a nerve for the experienced officer who has led the inquiry into Millane's murder - and also had the job of telling her family.

"Any father, any parent, in this situation will struggle. I have a daughter in her 20s," he said.

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"This brings the search for Grace to an end.

"It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them," Beard told local media and journalists from ITV and Sky television channels in Britain.

Millane's father, David Millane, is in New Zealand with a relative and had already been told her body had been found - a week after concerns were raised about her whereabouts. And it was a week after she should have been celebrating her 22nd birthday.

Grace's father, David Millane, has described her as a
Grace's father, David Millane, has described her as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter". Photo / Doug Sherring

Beard said investigative work led police late on Saturday night to the scene in the Waitakere Ranges.

Yesterday a team of 18 police officers, including forensic experts, spent the morning gathering evidence in a patch of manuka and scrub off a layby not far from the Waitakere dam carpark.

Officers dressed in white overalls were seen exiting the bush carrying clear bags. Large tents were erected on the side of the road and there were numerous police cars, both marked and unmarked.

By 4pm they had found her body.

"The formal identification process will now take place, however based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days, we expect that this is Grace," said Beard.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard in the Waitakere Ranges yesterday. Photo / Doug Sherring
Detective Inspector Scott Beard in the Waitakere Ranges yesterday. Photo / Doug Sherring

Police have released two photos of a 2016 red Toyota Corolla hatchback that was hired from a central Auckland rental car company just before lunchtime last Sunday, saying police wanted to hear from anyone who saw the vehicle in the West Auckland area between 6am and 9.30am last Monday, December 3.

The car was found in Taupo.

The focus now, said Beard, is to piece together exactly what happened to a young girl who came to New Zealand as part of a year-long solo OE.

Millane was last seen on CCTV on Saturday, December 1 entering CityLife Hotel with a 26-year-old man. That man is in police custody and due to appear in court today charged with murder.

Her family became concerned on December 2 when she did not respond to messages wishing her a happy 22nd birthday.

By Wednesday a missing person's report was filed with police and on Friday her father arrived in New Zealand where he spoke to media.

Millane told journalists his much-loved daughter arrived in New Zealand on November 20 as part of a year-long, worldwide overseas experience that began earlier this year in South America.

Fighting back tears, he spoke about the "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter" who had been so looking forward to going to New Zealand and had "bombarded us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures" since arriving.

Her brother Declan Millane released a heartbreaking tribute to his sister after she was found.

On Saturday police said they had assessed Millane's property left at the Base Backpackers where she had been staying - and found some items missing.

Her passport, a pale pink Casio Baby-G watch and necklace were amongst the missing items.

Police haven't said if those items were found with her body.

Guests at the 26-storey CityLife hotel on Queen St said police were talking to everyone who had stayed on the same floor as the man who was in custody. Police officers were also seen walking the streets around the hotel, apparently checking for CCTV cameras.

The last sightings of Millane were on the evening of Saturday, December 1, in one of the busiest parts of the city.

She was captured on CCTV leaving Andy's Burgers & Bar on the first level of SkyCity at 7.15pm.

The Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been supporting Millane's family, posted on its Facebook page they were "incredibly saddened" by the police announcement.

"Thank you to all who helped try and find Grace.

"Our thoughts are with her family at this awful time."

The hunt for Grace

October-November 2018

Grace Millane embarks on a year-long solo OE, starting in South America at the end of October, before she arrives in New Zealand on November 20.

She travels around the upper North Island, including Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga.

Friday, November 30

Grace arrives in Auckland and checks into the Base Backpackers Hostel.

Saturday, December 1

Grace makes contact with her family - the last time they will hear from her after daily messages back and forth.

Grace is captured on CCTV leaving Andy's Burgers & Bar, on the first level of SkyCity, at 7.15pm.

Later, at 9.41pm, Grace is captured again on CCTV, entering the CityLife Hotel on Queen St with a man.

Sunday, December 2

Family become concerned after Grace doesn't respond to messages wishing her a happy 22nd birthday.

Wednesday, December 5

A missing person's report is filed with police.

Friday, December 7

Grace's father David Millane arrives in New Zealand.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard says police have "grave fears" for her safety.

Saturday, December 8

Just after 3pm, police take in to custody the man, 26, Grace was with at the hotel and find a "vehicle of interest".

At 5pm, Beard announces the investigation is now a homicide inquiry.

Sunday, December 9

A body believed to be Grace is found in the Waitakere Ranges.