Fellow backpacker tells of Grace Millane's Sth Island plans

Grace Millane. Photo: Supplied via Facebook
Grace Millane. Photo: Supplied via Facebook
One of the last people to see Grace Millane alive has spoken to the New Zealand Herald exclusively about the young British backpacker's unfinished plans to explore the South Island.

The police homicide inquiry into Millane's disappearance came to a head yesterday when authorities recovered Grace's body from bush in the Waitakere Ranges.

Now, the man accused of murdering the 22-year-old has appeared in Auckland District Court today, where Judge Thomas told Millane's family, "all of us hope justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace".

"Your grief must be desperate".

English expat Jack Cotton said he was staying in Base Backpackers in downtown Auckland when Grace first checked in on November 29.

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He and another backpacker had noticed Millane sitting alone and in the spirit of backpacking invited her to have a drink with them, he told the Herald.

"Myself and another guy were having a cigarette in the smoking area. She was kind of on her own so we just said hello and invited her to our table."

There a group of about six people, including Millane, chatted about their travels and where they planned to go. Millane mentioned she was looking forward to celebrating her 22nd birthday on December 2.

The two English expats found common ground in their birth country. She told him she was from Essex and he told her he was from Nottingham.

The group drank with Millane before Cotton and a couple of others went on a pub crawl.

"We left and that is the last time I saw her which was about 8pm on the Thursday."

Millane had told him she was staying in Auckland for a short time before heading to the South Island to continue her travels, Cotton said.

He recalled Millane being a "very nice girl" who was quiet initially "but that was probably because she was on her own".

"She seemed like a genuinely nice, normal girl. It's a shame because its such a rarity for this kind of thing to happen."

Millane's death was so odd given how safe Auckland felt at any time of the day, Cotton said.

"I don't think it should deter people from travelling alone or going to different countries or exploring. It's some of the best things you will ever do and the best memories you will create."

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