Couple set off to take pilgrim route

17:00, Apr 08 2014
Bruce and Joy Crabtree
DETERMINED DUO: Bruce and Joy Crabtree will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary during a 900 kilometre trek.

Retired adventurers Bruce and Joy Crabtree plan to trek 900 kilometres through rural Spain, but not before they've walked to the airport to catch their flight.

The Crabtrees are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by following in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims to walk the Camino de Santiago trail across northern Spain.

They set out from Selwyn Heights Retirement Village this morning to walk the 11 kilometres to Auckland International Airport.

"We decided to walk there because that's what pilgrims do - they walk from home," 73-year-old Bruce Crabtree says.

They have come a long way to get to this point.

Joy Crabtree, 70, could barely make it 3km when they started training a year ago.


"We moved into a retirement village five years ago and that's been a bit of a motivation," she says.

"As far as I'm concerned I've got one life and I want to make the most of it."

The trek will take them from St Jean Pied de Port in France, on a steep climb across the Pyrenees before finishing in Santiago, Spain.

The Hillsborough residents will have to lug at least 8kg of supplies on their backs the entire time.

They will stay in dormitories run especially for pilgrims which can house more than 80 people in one room.

Earplugs to block out snoring are a must, Joy Crabtree says.

This is their first challenge on foot but they are no strangers to physical tests.

The keen cyclists completed the 160km ride around Lake Taupo back in the 1990s.

To prepare for the Camino they walked distances of up to 24km around One Tree Hill and undertook strength training with their daughter Cheryl Mackinnon, who is a personal trainer.

They have allowed themselves 63 days to complete the epic journey.

Even after 50 years the Crabtrees enjoy spending all of their time together.

They met as teenagers at Takapuna Grammar and married in 1964.

Their two children and three grandchildren are very proud of their achievements, Bruce Crabtree says.

"I think they're a bit in awe of it - having a target, working towards it and hopefully being able to achieve it."

But they won't be putting their feet up and having a cup of tea when they reach Santiago.

The Crabtrees will spend another five days walking 100km to Cape Finisterre, the peninsula on the west coast of Spain once considered to be the edge of the world.

Central Leader