Auckland police have found a body believed to be that of missing British backpacker Grace Millane in west Auckland bush this afternoon.
A full examination, which started early this morning, remains underway in a bush area on Scenic Drive, in Waitakere.
"This area was indentified late last night as a location of interest as a result of our investigative work," Auckland Detective Inspector Scott Beard told reporters near the scene late this afternoon.
"I can now advise that a short time ago, we located a body which we believe to be Grace," he said.
"The formal identification process will now take place. However, based on the evidence that we have gathered over the past few days, we expect that this is Grace.
"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.
"The investigation will continue for some time yet. The focus now is to piece together exactly what happened to a young girl who came to New Zealand on her OE," Mr Beard said.
He thanked the investigation team for their long hours of hard work over the past few days, adding, "We will be pleased to be giving Grace back to her family".
The body was found in bush probably about 10 metres off the road, he said.
Grace's father has been told of the discovery.
"Any father, any parent in this situation will struggle. I feel for him, I have a daughter in her twenties. So we are putting a lot of support around him. It's difficult because he's here with a brother from England, and the rest of the family are back home. So our hearts go out to them," Mr Beard said.
Police are calling for sightings of a Toyota Corolla hatchback that was rented from a central Auckland rental car company just before lunchtime last Sunday. The car was found in Taupō.
Anyone who saw a vehicle matching the description on December 3 between 6am and 9.30am in the west Auckland area has been advised to contact police on 0800 676 255.
A full closure of Scenic Drive will be in place between the intersection of Mountain Road and Scenic Drive, and the Waitakere Reservoir Carpark. Cordons are in place from 3pm until 7pm tonight.
Residents will however be given access during that time.
A 26-year-old man is due to appear in the Auckland District Court tomorrow charged with the murder of Ms Millane, 22, who disappeared while visiting the city on Saturday last week.