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Can you please help a new pilgrim from NZ?


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm walking the camino in the last half of May, first half of June and I have a birthday on 24 May.:) I can only take a maximum of 4 weeks off work and in that time I have to get myself to and from New Zealand. I realise I can't walk the entire camino in that time so would really appreciate help in planning. I feel I need to start in SJPDP and would love to walk the meseta but happy to miss any other places for this particular trip as long as I can walk from Sarria to finish in Santiago. At this stage I'm unsure where to even get to SJPDP from NZ! I'd very much appreciate any help from pilgrims who have been there before me :)


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
Hi Mazzy! Others (including you!) may disagree but I would suggest NOT starting from St Jean p de port if your time is limited. Work out how many kms you can do in the weeks you have and start there. That way, you’ll have a continuous experience... which I think is more enjoyable ....Only my opinion of course :)
Happy planning!


Hunter Valley,Australia
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,Portuguese 16,Finisterre Muxia 16,Ingles16,, Almeria to Muxia,Finesterre 18,,Camino 19 ??
Hi Mazzy! Others (including you!) may disagree but I would suggest NOT starting from St Jean p de port if your time is limited. Work out how many kms you can do in the weeks you have and start there. That way, you’ll have a continuous experience... which I think is more enjoyable ....Only my opinion of course :)
Happy planning!
totally agree !!!!!!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
I agree with @domigee too.
As far as travel is concerned, I'd run several options through one of the big travel websites to see what kind of connections you can get - through the Middle East or Asia, and to Madrid, Barcelona, or Paris. Paris is the easier city to get connections to as it's a bigger market. You can get there in relatively quickly through Asia too: Thai Air has a flight that connects through Bangkok (it's a long-ish layover, but it is a very nice airport and that is more relaxing since gives you some slack in case of delay). I found this on Kayak:



no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
Leaving in SJPdP you probably will be part of a tightly knit group, which is one of the pleasures of the pilgrimage. When you skip ahead, you will leave that group. You probably will become part of a group when you restart, but it won't be the same.

If you start further down the route, you will become part of a group, but will not have experienced the Pyrenees crossing, and may feel a bit like an outsider.

As with many situations in life, you cannot have it all!! You will need to decide which social situation you wish to join and weigh it against the value of the mountain crossing. If there is weather that covers the Pyrenees in fog and clouds, there will be no scenery, just the muscle and joint aches and pains and maybe blisters.

Burgos is about 550 kilometers from Santiago, a comfortable distance for you to cover in a shortened four weeks. In Burgos you will be surrounded by the 200+ per day who have started in SJPdP in May, but you also will join the 15 or so who are starting in Burgos. You will know the newbies the next night as you stop in the same place! You can walk with the ones just starting, or listen to the anecdotes of those who started in France, and join with them. You will have nearly four weeks to find the most compatible pilgrims as you head for Santiago.

If you jump ahead to Sarria, you will find 360 per day starting there. The 200 from SJPdP will be there along with the 15 from Burgos, but they all will be strangers to you, not the ones you may have started with. The dynamic between those who have been walking for nearly a month and those who are starting is a bit strained, if I may be honest. You can find a lot of comments on that dynamic here in the Forum, so I would not characterize it for you. Just know that it exists!

Tough choice! Good luck with it. ;);)
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
What is the distance you think you can cover in a day as average? Knowing that and it is easier to help you plan. It also depends if you are seeking a camino family or not as people here has mentioned already. I have walked most of mine without, as I'm a fast walker covering long distances I meet new people every day instead and that is also also an experience and that is what happens if you skip a head. You say 4 weeks off will that include a weekend before your first free Monday and then a weekend in the end. 28 or 30 days sway from NZ?
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I'll start off by saying I agree with those who say "start later than SJPP and walk continuously". I never understood this modern obsession with SJPP as a starting point. As far as I can tell, there is no historical basis to it. It isn't the place where the 3 French routes join (that would be Ostabat, I believe) nor where the 4 French routes join (near Puente la Reina). In the Middle and Early Modern Ages, I believe all pilgrims would have seen it as a town they passed through on their already underway pilgrimage rather than a place to go to start it (at least, those who passed through it rather than taking a different route).

All that being said, I am a firm believer in the idea that everyone gets to choose their own Camino and in answering the question posed. So, within the strictures of starting at SJPP and walking the whole Meseta, I would probably walk from SJPP to Pamplona, bus or train to Burgos, walk to Leon, bus or train to Astorga, walk from there. If you need to trim another day, a couple of possibilities are: trim a day from the several days between Cruz de Ferro and O Cebreiro or (especially if your knees are bad) trim the day between O Cebreiro and Triacastela. Or you could rent a bike in O Cebreiro and take it to Triacastela and walk from there to trim a day. On a bike it is only a couple of hours or so and downhill most if the way, leaving you in good condition and good timing to tack on another day's walk.

This means you'll be completely bypassing the Rioja wine region and its vineyards but you will get some of the Bierzo wine region.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
There are good suggestions above, given what we so far know about you. I would say that there are several considerations that you might look at to decide for yourself what you want to do. Do you go tramping in New Zealand and how far are you comfortable walking in a day, if you are experienced? For example, I find that I can walk 20-25 km in a day, day after day, so I plan my caminos knowing this. Are you a very social person looking forward to becoming part of a group that walks together? If so, start on the camino as far as you can walk from Santiago and do your best to join a group. This may be a challenge, as many groups (often referred to as camino families) meet early. But there is the advantage of sharing the route and arriving in Santiago with your special people, with whom you have shared the camino for hundreds of kilometres. Are you happy walking alone, like to keep your own pace as it develops and just enjoy casual meetings with others as they occur? It would still seem best to me to start as far back as you can comfortably walk to Santiago, perhaps giving yourself an emergency day, for sore feet or another health issue. Continuity can be important to give someone a sense of progress on the pilgrim route. There is also the question of the importance for you of starting in St Jean pied de Port. You and I (I am from western Canada) cannot start from home, which is the traditional place to begin to travel to Santiago. So you can plan your route as you please, provided you walk from Sarria, if you want the compostela. St Jean pied de Port as a starting place is a recent convention. However, if you love mountains (I have tramped in New Zealand and walked for many years in the Canadian Rockies, so I fully understand this obsession), then you may just be looking forward to the walk from St Jean. If you are confident that you will be comfortable dividing up your walk to see what you expect to be the highlights and to arrive in Santiago qualifying for the compostela, then your tentative plan may work for you and you can pick any one of the itineraries suggested above by experienced camino walkers. Buen camino.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
The 2 easiest places to fly into are Paris and Madrid, imo. From either one it is pretty easy to get to SJPdP and has been documented many times in the forum.

I do not understand the need many have to start in SJPdP. You can start anywhere and most people do not start there for a variety of reasons. The primary one being they do not have the time.

Consider these questions when making your decision. Is it important that you reach Santiago? Why does it matter where I start?

Since you have four weeks, including travel, you really have about 22 days of walking. With that thought in mind, I think you should fly into Madrid and then train to Burgos. I believe you can easily walk from Burgos to Santiago in that time frame. You will not have walked from SJPdP but you will have continuity in your journey. It will allow you to make and keep friends along the way and you will finish in Santiago. Also being your first Camino you will always be around others.

Should you be looking for less company you can always walk the Primitivo or a San Salvador/Primitivo. Either will get you to Santiago in the time frame you have to walk.

Good luck in making you decision, I am sure whatever choice you make it will be the correct one for you.



Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 2001,
Porto 2006,
Valenca 2008,
Finisterre 2010,
SJdPP 2012,
Tui 2014.

No plans to return, yet.
I'd be tempted to walk Porto to Santiago, train back to Porto. Try some of the coastal route, and onto Finisterre maybe. Watching the sunset at Fisterra looking over the Atlantic ticked all my Pagan boxes too.

Doing some of the same route twice gives you a chance to cement the experience. (Some of the Portuguese follows the ancient Roman Atlantic road, it's pretty special) You would get to fix it in your mind properly.

I've spent my last five years holidaying in Rome. It's getting like I know the place. I feel a stronger connection is the best choice. Gadding about leaves a shallow impression. IMO.

San Jean de pier de port is nice and the Pyrenees are magnificent but you won't get to complete the Camino in the traditional style. Which for me would also be a disappointment.
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
If you aren't tied to the Camino Frances, then walking the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago and on to Finisterre/Muxia sounds like a good option. It won't take the full four weeks, giving you time for travel to and from your Caminos and perhaps a bit of buffer in case you need a day or two for health reasons.

I've started to think of Porto as the "SJPP" of the Camino Portugues, since so many people start there. In the same way, I'd say Lisbon is the "Le Puy" of the CP and Tui is the "Sarria" of the CP. So starting in Porto is very similar to starting in CP, in that context.
Camino(s) past & future
Think very seriously about the Portuguese route from Porto, coastal and variant espirital is stunning. There are many many people in New Zealand who have walked many routes. Enjoy!


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
What is the distance you think you can cover in a day as average? Knowing that and it is easier to help you plan. It also depends if you are seeking a camino family or not as people here has mentioned already. I have walked most of mine without, as I'm a fast walker covering long distances I meet new people every day instead and that is also also an experience and that is what happens if you skip a head. You say 4 weeks off will that include a weekend before your first free Monday and then a weekend in the end. 28 or 30 days sway from NZ?
Like you I'm not hugely dependent on being part of a group all the way so I'm happy to take my chances. I'm ideally leaving NZ on Saturday 11 May and returning on Saturday 8 June.


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I walked the camino francés starting Sept. 12, 2018 from SJPdP. Here are my recommendations, FWIW:

1. Fly to Pamplona (there are good connections from Madrid to Pamplona). Book your return trip from Santiago (there are good connections from Santiago to Madrid).
2. Pick up your pilgrim's credential, buy trekking poles, and spend 1 night in Pamplona.
3. Take the 10:00 a.m. bus (Euro 22), to SJPdP. The bus arrives in SJPdP at about noon.
4. Eat lunch in SJPdP and then start walking the same day (do not spend a night in SJPdP). Walk to Roncesvalles at the very least. Since you're starting late: call ahead and reserve a bed in Roncesvalles. In terms of calories burned / work done, this will be your most difficult day on the entire camino, but even so it is not a super-human achievement / it is doable.
5. Do NOT follow the guide books when planning your ending point for each day (there's too much congestion in those towns). Make a personal rule to stop anywhere except where the guide book recommends you stop.
6. Look for hostels that are small (i.e. fewer beds), and a bit away (a few hundred meters is enough), from the main route. This way you'll get quality interaction with a few other pilgrims, rather than feeling lost in the crowd.
7. Rent a bike for the meseta.
8. You can walk much further each day if you do not carry your pack. Since you're short on time, opt for your backpack to be transported (Euro 5 / day). Your average day's hike should increase from about 12 miles (for people who carry their packs), to about 18.
9. Use your trekking poles consistently, even after everyone else puts theirs away. This will help you cover more distance and will reduce stress on your feet, ankles, and knees.
10. Do not stop in the cities for shopping, sight-seeing, or cathedral visits. You can see cities anywhere else, on a different trip.
11. Listen to your body. When you're overdoing it, your body will tell you. However, it will start by "whispering". Listen to the "whisper". If you do not make adjustments until your body is "yelling" at you loudly and painfully it may be too late and you'll probably have to finish your camino another year.

If you're in good physical condition, you should be able to complete the camino in your available time.

Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@Mazzy , kia ora and lots of good advice above.

Rachel of @Kiwi-family I think has it right about Madrid. She lives in Auckland but I wont hold that against her. I would allow seven of your 29 days for travel and a bit up your sleeve, including a few days at Compostella to wind down. That leaves 3 weeks for walking, including lay days (say walk 6 - rest 1)

Where you start depends on whether this is a once only event or whether you might do sections every year or so.

If the latter I would suggest starting further east at Le Puy-en-Velay.

But the way you write suggest this is to be it with a finish at Compostella. So be it.

Assuming you can average, say, 25 km a day sustained for 18 days that is about 450 km. Looking for a staring point that has train or coach connections with Madrid, that suggests Sahagun or Leon. The former would give you two or three days on the meseta, but not (in my view the most exciting part of the meseta, but each to their own). And would would still be a mountain goat up past Cruz-de-ferro and up to O'Cebreiro.

Starting further east at Burgos may be cutting it a bit fine. Nut might be doable, depending on your fitness and stamina and your experience of long distance walking. If you see this as a once only experience I would tend to play safe.

Kia kaha

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