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Budgeting the Trails: Comparing Costs of Walking the Caminos in Spain and Trekking Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand for UK Explorers

"While money can provide comfort and security, it's the richness of life experiences that truly nourishes the soul and leaves a lasting impact. Whether it's traveling to distant lands, immersing oneself in different cultures, or pursuing passions and dreams, these experiences shape us in profound ways, fostering growth, empathy, and understanding. So, while it's important to be prudent with finances, don't hesitate to invest in life's adventures—they're the true treasures that endure."

For pilgrims or trekkers considering embarking on long-distance journeys, understanding the financial aspects can be crucial.

When it comes to comparing the costs of walking the Caminos in Spain versus trekking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, there are notable differences, particularly for those coming from the UK.

Walking the Caminos in Spain: Budget-Friendly Adventure

Walking the Caminos in Spain, renowned for their historic routes and rich cultural experiences, tends to be more budget-friendly for international travellers, including those from the UK.

Here's why:

  • Accommodation Costs: In Spain, pilgrims on the Camino have the option to stay in albergues, which are pilgrim hostels offering affordable lodging. Municipal albergues, run by local authorities, often provide beds for a nominal fee, typically ranging from €5 to €15 per night. Private albergues may offer more amenities at slightly higher rates, usually between €10 to €25 per night. Overall, accommodation costs along the Camino routes are relatively low compared to many other travel destinations.

  • Food and Dining: Spain is known for its delicious and reasonably priced cuisine. Pilgrims walking the Camino can enjoy hearty meals at local restaurants, bars, and cafes along the way without breaking the bank. Menu del día, a set menu offering multiple courses at a fixed price, is a popular and affordable dining option. Additionally, supermarkets and grocery stores in towns and villages along the Camino routes provide budget-friendly choices for purchasing snacks and meal ingredients.

  • Transportation: While there may be initial travel costs to reach the starting point of the Camino route in Spain, such as airfare or train tickets, once on the pilgrimage trail, transportation expenses are minimal. Walking is the primary mode of travel, reducing the need for costly transportation within the country.

Trekking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand: Investing in Adventure

In contrast, trekking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand presents a different financial landscape, particularly for travellers coming from the UK:

  • Accommodation Costs: Accommodation options along the Te Araroa Trail vary, including campsites, huts, lodges, and motels. While there is the option to wild camp, New Zealand especially in the South Island, has a fantastic hut system. You can buy a hut pass for 6 months (NZD$120) which allows you to stay in the majority of huts. In some huts you may need to pay extra, or you are allowed to camp outside. Private accommodations, such as lodges, motels and hostels, often come with higher price tags, impacting overall trip expenses.

  • Food and Supplies: Along the Te Araroa Trail, stocking up on food and essentials tends to cost more compared to Spain. New Zealand's higher living expenses mean groceries and eating out can hit the wallet harder. Plus, as the trail stretches on, hiker hunger kicks in—your body craves more food, so you end up buying extra. Expect to double up on meals and snack more, especially after a few weeks on the trail, which can drive up your spending.

  • Transportation and Logistics: Traveling to and within New Zealand entails substantial transportation expenses, including international airfare, domestic flights, or bus fares, as well as ground transportation to trailheads or access points. This may also encompass water taxi, ferry services, and bike hire. Additionally, there are visa and travel insurance costs to consider. Logistical preparations extend to gear rental or purchase, with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) being essential for backcountry safety in New Zealand; I personally use a ZOLEO device. Given the considerable distance from home, maximizing your visit with side trips can be rewarding, albeit at an added expense. Hitching is a common mode of transport for hikers, offering a cost-effective option. Many parts of the South Island are remote, prompting some hikers to arrange food resupplies in advance for later collection, though this incurs additional costs such as packaging, postage, and collection fees. While I didn't opt for this approach, it's a common practice among fellow hikers

Conclusion: Budgeting for Adventure

In summary, walking the Caminos in Spain offers a more budget-friendly adventure compared to trekking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, particularly for travellers coming from the UK. 

While both journeys provide unforgettable experiences and breathtaking scenery, understanding and planning for the associated costs can help prospective pilgrims and trekkers prepare financially for their respective adventures in these diverse and captivating destinations.


Ready for more adventure?

Listen to The Tough Girl Podcast episodes about the Te Araroa Trail and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts on the Camino Via de la Plata.



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