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If we can't walk the Camino; local alternatives

john newman

Kiwi Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Le Puy (2016)
Vézelay (2019)
Norte (2019)
We here in NZ are prisoners in a guilded cage. Can’t really go anywhere outside Aotearoa but complete freedom within.
A bubble has opened up to parts of Oz, but that’s all.
In the meantime, I’m going on Ebike tours. Hawkes Bay last month, Taranaki next. Don’t know when (or if) I’ll ever get a long walk again. As you all may know, we’re a new country with long distances between towns and poor infrastructure.
So it’s biking now.
Thanks for the update, Ivar.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
As you all may know, we’re a new country with long distances between towns and poor infrastructure.

@john newman, I do know this. Although there are some walking joys to be had locally. For example:

In September I was able to walk 100 km of the Otago Central Rail Trail (Alexandra to Ranfurly) before much forecast snow and strong winds and no adequate accommodation on the next day put a stopper. And there is no transport infrastructure which includes Ranfurly. So the Ranfurly motel receptionist got on the tom toms and within a few hours I had the offer of a 70 km ride to Palmerston and SH1 and a long distance bus route. The walking route itself is not challenging - 350 m asl to 620 m asl over 70 km and back down to 300 m asl over the next 80 km - but does include almost as much railway engineering as the Settle to Carlisle Railway in central northern England, with that engineering achieved at the turn of the 20th century "by hardy souls using pick, shovel, dynamite, horse and cart". What sets this route apart is the excellent pubs and the meals they serve and the very friendly people I, and others, met along the way. Five or six days to complete plus getting there and back.

This month I still hope to walk the Great Taste Trail, which has a rail trail component. This one is westwards from Nelson, through a long tunnel and around to the village of Tapa'wera. Then veering right up to Motu'eka, back down through wineries and beside the large Tasman Bay back to Nelson. It's just the forecast strong rain early next week that is putting a dampener at the moment. Again, about 5 or 6 days plus there and back.

And I look forward to a start from Hamilton, walk over Pi'ro'ngia (959 m asl or ~3,300 feet asl), down to Waitomo and the caves, across to the Pu're'ora forest with suspension bridges, a spiral (the trail loops over itself) on the way down to Tau'ma'ra'nui. This is most of the Wai'ka'to section of Te Ara'roa. And I might be brave and carry on to Rae'tihi. If that trip starts I would consider busing to Wha'nga'nui and walk from there to Levin, including the new bridge over the Mana'wa'tu just south of Foxton, bus to O'taki and walk (again most mostly along Te Ara'roa) to Island Bay on Wellington's southern coast.

Another local option I have is to, depending on the forecast direction of wind, is to start at either Featherston or Wellington. From Island Bay on Wellington's southern coast walk up the west side of Te Wha'nga'nui-a-Tara / Wellington Harbour to Pe'to'ne, then across to Te Awa Kai'ra'ngi / Hutt River and up to Te Marua (60 km and 100 m asl) and continue on the Re'mu'taka Rail Trail to Summit Tunnel (another 20 km and 400 m asl), down to Cross Creek (10 km and 50 m asl - descent of 350 m) and so to Featherston (another 10 km and also 50 m asl). From there, train back (including through an 8 km tunnel) to home. About 3 or 4 days.

These routes can be seen at hiking.WayMarkedTrails.org and you will need a tent.

For those who would like to keep in trim we have the (Guinness Book of Records) steepest street in the world (Baldwin Street, Dunedin, Otago) to practice hill work and then you can go to either end of the Otago Central Rail Trail for five or more days of walking in an approximation of a Spanish camino.

Arrival conditions are 14 days quarantine (at your cost - about NZD 3,000 last I heard), whatever condition on return to your home and, I guess, sky high air fares to and fro.

Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui koutou katoa (You all be strong, confident and patient).

And get going when you can!

Tai Chi

a.k.a. "Phil"
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018); Madrid & Ingles (2019)
Here's one from Canada. To scratch my "itch to get out and walk", last month I walked roughly 120 km from Hamilton (Ontario) through Toronto to Pickering along the various waterfront trails and routes. This worked out really well. I ate on patios and parks (takeout) along the way, and never had to eat indoors in a restaurant.

It lacked the social aspects of the Camino Francis, but was similar to walking the Madrid Camino, which was pretty solitary. Even this 5 day walk really helped with my frame of mind!

So I heartily support the concept of seeking out a "camino-like" experience closer to home.

My next walkabout might be from Niagara Falls to Hamilton... but perhaps after the current wave of Covid-19 cases settles down a bit.

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
I am currently working on the itinerary for a 5 day walk here in Southern California. I will start at the Historic Mission in San Diego, walk to the Pacific coast then walk to the next historic mission at San Luis Rey in Oceanside (California) then return to the coast and walk to the next mission located in San Juan Capistrano. This is an abbreviated version of the entire 800 mile Missions Trail, but enough to "scratch my itch" for a short get away on a walking trail during these Covid times......



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