A New Zealand woman has died suddenly while walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail in Spain.

Jill Lorch, 66, died on May 23 while participating in the famous walk, also known as The Way of St James or simply The Way.

Daughter-in-law Dannielle Lorch said Lorch had completed half of the trail with her husband James (Jim) Lorch, and when she went to sleep she never woke up.

"It was a huge shock and the autopsy report said it was a heart aneurysm, so it was very quick and considering she was asleep she was at peace," she said.


Lorch's son, Jason Lorch, said his parents were in Leon and had been given a certificate for getting half way through the month long walk when she died.

"There were no warnings signs or anything, she just didn't wake up," he said.

Jason Lorch said his father was taking the death pretty hard, but the people on the tour had been really supportive.

"It was a total shock. We have just been trying to get our heads around it over the past few days.

"Everyone has come together and have been really supportive, but it will probably hit home when we see dad."

The family had Lorch's body cremated in Spain, and Jim Lorch is due to return home on Tuesday.

Jill Lorch died of a heart aneurysm after completing half of the Camino de Santiago. Photo / Supplied
Jill Lorch died of a heart aneurysm after completing half of the Camino de Santiago. Photo / Supplied

Jason Lorch said this was the first time his parents had done anything like this before, other than a cruise ship tour last year.

"The hadn't done anything quite like this before but they were going for walks every day in preparation.

"It kind of shows you that it can happen to anybody at any time. She was a fit and healthy person that was always active, and she could have outpaced all of us. You really can't prepare for it."

The Lorchs were married for 35 years and have four children; Jason, Jessica, Michelle and Simon, as well as eight grandchildren.

Jason Lorch said his mother was a determined and hard working lady who always stood up for what she believed in.

"She was tough but fair, none of us would mess with her. She was never one to muck around and waste time. She was always doing something and keeping busy."

The family lived in Whangārei, before settling on Waiheke Island for 15 years.

Lorch worked as a chartered accountant before retiring. After retirement the couple bought a motorhome and started travelling.

"Mum was very involved in the motorhome association," Jason said.

"She was always going to the rallies and travelling around the country. It was something she was quite passionate about."

Dannielle Lorch said her mother-in-law was also loving, kind and generous.

"She had a heart to constantly help out no matter how big or small. She was very supportive and family meant everything to her.

"Sadly she went away as a person, but now will come back as ashes."

The family are planning a memorial service for Lorch once their father returns from Spain.