Best bargains for Kiwi travellers

Last updated 12:14 03/11/2009

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With the New Zealand dollar so high, there's never been a better time for Kiwis to head abroad, but you still need to plan. We found the best deals to make your travel budget go further.

Marie Pilkington, from Flight Centre, says the top- value destination is the United States, to take advantage of the falling US dollar. Earlier this year the NZ dollar dipped under US50c; now it'll buy you about 73c.

"There are so many options for visiting America," she says, "and saving money on the exchange rate and airfares is a double bonus meaning Kiwis are able to travel to America at incredibly low prices. Even if you don't intend to travel until 2010, now's the time to book to take advantage of these great holiday packages."

The House of Travel's Jo Wedlock says New York is currently extremely attractive in hotel rates and because of the rise in the Kiwi dollar. People are also including stopovers in the US on the way to the UK and Europe as it's much better value than in the past. "But so too is Hong Kong as their dollar is pegged to the US dollar, so there are plenty of options to break up your long haul trip," Wedlock says.

Pilkington says Asia is always good value for money and now is the time to book.

"Anywhere in Asia is great value for Kiwis, and popular for Kiwis is Thailand. Not only does the NZ dollar buy fantastic value against the Thai baht, the cost of holidaying in Thailand is incredibly low. Shopping, eating out and drinks are all cheap, with the average price of a meal at a local restaurant between Bt40 and Bt70, which is around $4. The accommodation options in Thailand are fantastic as there are a range of options - all cheap - that mean Kiwis can have luxurious accommodation at a relatively low cost."

Pilkington says cruises have become popular, especially given their all-inclusive nature. "There are lots of fantastic cruises departing Auckland which means all accommodation, meals and onboard entertainment is included. They are great for people on a budget as they then only need to allow spending money for some day excursions and drinks onboard. Cruising the Mediterranean in particular is popular at the moment because of the high Kiwi dollar."

The Pacific Islands are always a popular holiday destination for Kiwis. Air New Zealand has a wholesale airfare to Samoa, representing more than 50 percent off the normal price, for travel in November and December, available through travel agents. If you're after a complete package, Air New Zealand is also offering deals to Fiji - this time last year four nights at the Sheraton cost $1059, but now four nights at the Westin or Sonaisali are around $899.

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For those wanting to head further afield, there are some great deals to Europe, and to the UK - where our dollar is now worth just under 45c to the British pound, an increase from around 35c this time last year.

Wedlock says Singapore Airlines recently launched its earlybird UK Europe fare for $2099, "which is the lowest price they have done in 10 years".

Similarly, Emirates has earlybird 2010 fares on offer to your choice of 22 European destinations from $2164, including all taxes and levies, return economy class, on sale until December 17.

Air New Zealand spokesman Mark Street says the national carrier's earlybird fares to Europe are about 15% lower than last year's comparable campaign.

"Our lowest economy fare at present from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to London is an all-inclusive fare of $2347 per person [for travel March 1 to June 30 2010 and September 1 to October 31]. Last year our lowest advertised price for travel to London for a similar travel period was $2783."

Cathay Pacific's earlybird flights are also cheaper than last year to London and Rome - about $2099, plus taxes, with stopover options in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Nadi, and 28 destinations throughout Asia, but tickets must be purchased by December 15. "We have seen really good interest this year in these fares," says spokeswoman Pauline Ray.

If an all-inclusive coach tour is more your thing, Flight Centre is offering Contiki deals cheaper than last year, such as a 16-day European encounter from $2789.

- Sunday Star Times

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