WORLD
09/12/2018 7:02 PM AEDT | Updated 09/12/2018 10:40 PM AEDT

Body Found In Search For Grace Millane 'Believed To Be' Missing Brit

"It is an unbearable time."

A body found by New Zealand detectives searching for Grace Millane is believed to be the missing British backpacker, police have said.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, of Auckland City Police, said formal identification was yet to take place, although “based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days we expect that this is Grace”.

A 26-year-old man has been charged with murder and is due in court on Monday.

Hannah Peters via Getty Images
The scene where the body was found.

Detectives said they had identified a “location of interest” after the investigation led them to a spot on Scenic Drive, a country road around 12 miles west of the city centre, on Saturday night.

The body of the 22-year-old was found in bushes “around 10 metres” from the road.

Beard revealed investigators are analysing a hire car as part of the probe, reports the Press Association.

The red Toyota Corolla hatchback was hired from a central Auckland rental firm just before lunchtime on Sunday.

Lucie Blackman Trust/PA
Grace Millane.

The detective appealed for anyone who saw the car in the west Auckland area between 6.30am and 9.30am on Monday to come forward.

He added: “Obviously 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.”

Formal identification and a post-mortem will take place on Monday.

A stretch of the road where the body was found was closed on Sunday afternoon while forensics officers scoured the area.

Hannah Peters via Getty Images
Detective Inspector Scott Beard.

Two large blue and white tents had been erected and investigators wearing white overalls were seen nearby.

Scenic Drive snakes through dense rainforest in the Waitakere Ranges, which lie to the west of Auckland.

The spot where police found the body they believe to be the backpacker is in the vicinity of the Waitakere Reservoir and dam, a beauty spot with hiking trails.

The red Toyota Corolla hatchback was hired from a central Auckland rental firm just before lunchtime on December 2, the day after Millane was last seen alive.

Police have appealed for sightings of the car in the west Auckland area between 6.30am and 9.30am on Monday.

PA

The last confirmed sighting of Millane was at 9.41pm on 1 December, the day before her birthday, at the Citylife Hotel in central Auckland, when she was seen with a “male companion”.

Since arriving in New Zealand from Peru on November 20, she had been in near-daily contact with her family.

Police received a missing person report on Wednesday and commenced a major search and public campaign that saw dozens of calls made to a helpline.

Millane’s father, David, flew to Auckland and made a public appeal for help finding his daughter, who he described as a “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving (and) family-orientated”.