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Walking Worlds Apart: Contrasting the Caminos of Spain and Te Araroa Trail of New Zealand




Walking the Caminos in Spain and trekking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand offer vastly different experiences due to their unique landscapes, cultures, and logistical considerations.


Scenery:


  • Camino in Spain: The Caminos wind through picturesque Spanish countryside, charming villages, historic towns, and lush vineyards. Pilgrims traverse diverse terrain, from rolling hills to rugged mountains, with iconic landmarks like the Pyrenees and the Meseta.


  • Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand: Te Araroa showcases New Zealand's stunning natural beauty, encompassing pristine beaches, dense forests, alpine passes, and volcanic landscapes. Hikers encounter a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, fjords, and glacier-carved valleys, with breathtaking views of mountains and coastal cliffs.


New Zealand 2023 - sunrise, wildness walking and mountain biking (Mt. Cook is hidden behind the clouds)


Culture and History:


  • Camino in Spain: Walking the Caminos is not just a physical journey but also a cultural and spiritual pilgrimage, steeped in centuries of history and tradition. Pilgrims immerse themselves in Spanish culture, interacting with locals, visiting cathedrals, and experiencing regional cuisine and traditions.


  • Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand: Te Araroa offers insights into Maori culture and the indigenous history of New Zealand, with opportunities to learn about Maori legends, visit historical sites, and connect with local communities along the trail. Hikers also experience New Zealand's diverse modern culture, from bustling cities to remote rural settlements.


Spain - Camino Frances pilgrims statue, outside Leon Cathedral & the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela


Logistics:


  • Camino in Spain: The Caminos are well-established pilgrimage routes with a network of albergues (hostels), cafes, and services catering to pilgrims' needs. Accommodation options are abundant, and way-marking makes navigation relatively straightforward, even for solo hikers.


  • Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand: Te Araroa is a long-distance trail that traverses remote and rugged terrain, requiring more self-sufficiency and wilderness skills. Hikers must carefully plan resupply points, water sources, and accommodations, as facilities can be sparse in some sections. Navigation can be challenging in wilderness areas, and weather conditions are variable and unpredictable.


New Zealand - Crossing rivers, canoeing & riding mountain bikes (Timber Trail)


Trail Experience:


  • Camino in Spain: The Caminos offer a social and communal experience, with pilgrims from around the world coming together to share the journey. The trail is well-traveled, and camaraderie among pilgrims is a hallmark of the experience. Many pilgrims opt for a slower pace, savouring the cultural and spiritual aspects of the journey.


  • Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand: Te Araroa provides a more solitary and wilderness-focused experience, particularly in remote sections of the trail. Hikers may go days without encountering other people, and solitude amidst New Zealand's pristine landscapes is a defining feature of the journey. The trail offers a sense of adventure and exploration, with opportunities for wildlife encounters and immersion in nature.


In summary, while both walking the Caminos in Spain and trekking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand offer incredible outdoor experiences, they differ in terms of scenery, culture, logistics, and trail dynamics.


Each journey presents its own challenges and rewards, inviting adventurers to explore the world on foot in unique and meaningful ways.




 

Crunching the Numbers: A Personal Comparison of Trail Stats.


In this section, I'm laying out the hard facts from my experiences on both the Caminos Via de la Plata and the Te Araroa Trail of New Zealand.


It's time to break down the miles walked, the day to day expenses, as well as my enjoyment, level of fatigue and thoughts on the terrain.


By putting these numbers side by side, we'll get a clear picture of the physical challenges and logistical differences between these two epic adventures.


Metrics

Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand

Camino Via de la Plata, Spain

Total Days Away

132 days

33 days

Total Days on Trail

114 days

31 days

Total Walking Days

92 days

31 days

Total Rest Days

20 days

0 days

Total Travel Days

11 days

2 days

Total Distance Walked

3,028 km (1,893 miles) *this also included the canoe, cycle, and hitching

1,042 km (651 miles)

Average Daily Distance Walked

26 km (16 miles)

33 km (20 miles)

Total Steps Taken

2,616,979

1,338,589

Total Accommodation Costs

£1,174 / $2,448

£335 / €390

Average Accommodation Costs per Day

£10 / $21

£11 / €13

Total Food Costs

£1,730 / $3,617

£358 / €417

Average Food Costs per Day

£15 / $32

£11 / €13

Total Miscellaneous Costs

£364 / $730

£81 / €94

Total Travel Costs

£2,196 / $4,558

£249 / €290

Total Costs (Including Travel)

£7,003 / $14,800

£1,045 / €1,216

Total Costs (Excluding Travel)

£3,796 / $7,941

£796 / €926

Average Daily Costs (Excluding Travel)

£33 / $69

£26 / €30

Total Enjoyment (Subjective Rating out of 10)

69%

66%

Total Fatigue (Subjective Rating out of 10)

46%

39%

Total Ease of Terrain (Subjective Rating)

57%

37%

Stats Analysis


Duration and Activity Distribution: The Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand spanned a significantly longer duration of 132 days compared to the Camino Via de la Plata in Spain, which lasted for 33 days. The New Zealand trail included a mix of walking, canoeing, cycling, and hitching, leading to a higher number of total days away and total walking days.


Distance Covered: Despite the shorter duration, the Camino Via de la Plata covered a considerable distance of 1,042 km (651 miles), with an average daily distance of 33 km (20 miles), while the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand spanned 3,028 km (1,893 miles) with an average daily distance of 26 km (16 miles). This indicates a higher average daily distance covered on the Camino Via de la Plata.


Costs and Expenses: The total costs, including travel, were notably higher for the Te Araroa Trail, totalling £7,003 / $14,800 compared to £1,045 / €1,216 for the Camino Via de la Plata. Similarly, the average daily costs, excluding travel, were higher for the Te Araroa Trail (£33 / $69) compared to the Camino Via de la Plata (£26 / €30). This is to be expected. New Zealand is so far away from the UK and it's an island. Which means it has a higher cost of living, impacting on accommodation, food, transportation, and other daily expenses. The longer duration and distance of the Te Araroa Trail compared to the Camino Via de la Plata contribute to overall higher expenses. These factors collectively contribute to the higher costs associated with hiking in New Zealand.


Accommodation and Food: The average accommodation costs per day were slightly lower on the Camino Via de la Plata (£11 / €13) compared to the Te Araroa Trail (£10 / $21). However, the average food costs per day were higher on the Te Araroa Trail (£15 / $32) compared to the Camino Via de la Plata (£11 / €13). This indicates a higher expenditure on food while hiking in New Zealand. The accommodation costs levelled out because I was wild camping in New Zealand and using huts.


Subjective Experience: Both trails received relatively high ratings for enjoyment, with the Te Araroa Trail rated at 69% (due to the South Island) and the Camino Via de la Plata at 66%. However, the New Zealand trail recorded a higher rating for fatigue (46%) compared to the Camino in Spain (39%), which indicates it was more physically demanding. Additionally, the ease of terrain was rated higher for the Te Araroa Trail (57%) compared to the Camino Via de la Plata (37%). Which makes sense as the TA is a lot more mountainous and more time is spend in the wilderness.

In summary, both trails offer unique experiences and challenges, the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand was characterised by a longer duration, higher overall costs, and greater physical demands, whereas the Camino Via de la Plata in Spain offered a shorter but still rewarding journey with lower expenses and slightly less demanding terrain.


Top row - Spain. Bottom row - New Zealand


 

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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