Emotional candlelight vigil for Grace Millane on Queenstown lake front

An emotional candlelight vigil has been held on the Queenstown lake front tonight to honour British backpacker Grace Millane, a day after a man appeared in an Auckland court charged with her murder.

About 70 people gathered to pay their respects to Ms Millane who arrived in New Zealand last month on her overseas travels. 

She was last seen in central Auckland on December 1, the day before her 22nd birthday. Police found her body last Sunday in bushland near a road on the western outskirts of Auckland.

Many are feeling the loss in Queenstown, a major tourist destination and a haven for backpackers.

Tonight dozens of candles were lit and flowers laid at a shrine on the shores of lake Wakatipu. Local iwi also shared a karakia and performed songs. 

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An outpouring of grief continues for the 22-year-old English backpacker and her family. Source: 1 NEWS

A family friend of Grace, Joshua Lewis, also attended the vigil and became emotional as he spoke to 1 NEWS about how much her family means to him.

Joshua said he knew Grace and her family through her brother, Declan, who's one of his best friends.

"All my friends are always round at his house, so we knew Grace very well," he said.

"I can't imagine what he's going through, or any of his family has gone through. And I wish I was there for her, and for them right now," he said, wiping away tears. 

"I mean, I think I just have to hold him really. What can you say?  I'd probably say, 'I love you, I love her whole family. I loved her like a little sister as well'. But I'm obviously glad everyone has showed so much support," Joshua said.

He lit candles on a cake marking Grace's 22nd birthday.

Tonight's vigil was the first of several planned around the country this week to pay tribute to Grace Millane and show compassion for her and her family.

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Joshua Lewis, a friend of Grace's brother, attended and said he can't imagine what he's going through. Source: 1 NEWS