Who is Grace Millane? British backpacker missing in Auckland

Author
NZ Herald ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Friday, 7 December 2018, 10:25a.m.

She was on the trip of a lifetime, now the world is holding its breath as mystery unfolds into the disappearance of the British backpacker in New Zealand.

Grace Millane was last seen on Saturday night in downtown Auckland, the day before her 22nd birthday.

Her family raised the alarm two days later after she stopped responding to their messages. Prior to then she had been in contact daily.

The "bubbly", "outgoing" artist and advertising graduate from Essex, in the southeast of England, was travelling solo for the first time.

Grace Millane was last heard from on December 1, 2018. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane was last heard from on December 1, 2018. Photo / Supplied

Her brother Michael told the Herald she was six weeks into a year-long overseas adventure.

She started her trip in South America, spending four weeks travelling as part of a group itinerary.

A month ago she hiked with the group to the Inca citadel Machu Picchu in Peru.

Once she arrived in New Zealand about two weeks ago she travelled around the upper North Island.

Just last month she visited Cape Reinga with a group of fellow travellers.

Back in Auckland, Millane was booked into Base Backpackers until December 8.

The last known image of Grace Millane, taken at 7.15pm on Saturday night at SkyCity in Auckland's CBD. Photo / File
The last known image of Grace Millane, taken at 7.15pm on Saturday night at SkyCity in Auckland's CBD. Photo / File

Prior to starting her OE, Millane graduated from the University of Lincoln in September with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing.

She described herself as having a "real passion for advertising".

At university she was vice-captain of the hockey team.

In 2016 Millane spent three months as a lifeguard at Camp America Spruce Lake in Pennsylvania.

She was also a talented artist, and in 2015 had one of her pieces exhibited in the London Mall Student exhibition.

Her millionaire property developer father David Millane is due to touch down in Auckland today as fears for his daughter's safety continue to grow.

New Zealand Police had been in "contact constantly" with the family, her brother Michael Millane said.

She was due to spend another two weeks in the country.

Michael said he was not sure of her travel plans in New Zealand, but he knew she had a flexible itinerary to travel around most of the country.

Grace Millane graduated from the University of Lincoln in September with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane graduated from the University of Lincoln in September with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing. Photo / Supplied

While she was travelling alone, Michael said she had made a lot of friends.

"It is a really hard situation for the family at the moment," he said.

Millane's disappearance has the world watching, with headlines in dozens of media outlets from the UK, Europe, the United States and more.

A post by her brother had been shared on social media almost 40,000 times.

Missing British backpacker Grace Millane was six weeks into a year-long overseas trip of a lifetime. Photo / Supplied
Missing British backpacker Grace Millane was six weeks into a year-long overseas trip of a lifetime. Photo / Supplied

Thousands of other posts have been shared on social media pleading for information about her, and people have been tweeting under the hash tag #helpfindgrace.

UK charity the Lucie Blackman Trust, which supports British victims overseas, had taken on the case for the family.

The charity had put out an "urgent appeal" for any information about Millane.

Police yesterday released a new photograph showing the last known sighting of Millane.

The blurry image - taken from CCTV security footage - showed the young woman dressed in a black dress and white shoes, with her brown hair down.

The image was captured on Saturday night, about 7.15pm, in downtown Auckland near SkyCity, police said.

It is the last time anyone has seen Millane, Detective Inspector Scott Beard said.

"Her family member is coming out - obviously, they're distraught. They're on the other side of the world and they haven't heard from her."

Beard said there was no evidence of foul play at this stage and police were speaking with people at the backpackers Millane was staying at - including those she was with on Saturday night.

A post put out by Grace Millane's brother Michael, after she failed to respond to their messages. Photo / Supplied
A post put out by Grace Millane's brother Michael, after she failed to respond to their messages. Photo / Supplied

He would not confirm what was left at the room, but said her belongings remained there.

Millane, who has been in New Zealand for about two weeks, has travelled to the Bay of Islands since arriving.

She was due to leave New Zealand in about two weeks, police said.

More than 20 police staff are on the case, he said.

Police would not comment on her bank account or cellphone activity.

"The longer this goes on, the more worrying it is. At this stage we're hopeful we will find Grace."

Beard said they were still trying to get in touch with a number of people she had been with on Saturday night.

Anyone with sightings or information about this case is encouraged to contact Auckland City Police on 09 302 6557.

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