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Normally, you think of web specials as late-breaking and favoring the last minute traveler. It's not too often that you come across a fare sale for an airline that actually favors those who are planning way, way, ahead of time. In light of a new special announced by Air New Zealand that permits you to fly to your choice of four Australian cities for the same price and get a free stopover in New Zealand, we're checking into other specials for this part of the Southern Hemisphere.

Apparently, the land of the Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson, fine shirazes and wool sweaters wants you to visit. Air New Zealand (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) is running a web deal that is good for round-trip travel from Los Angeles ($944) and San Francisco ($1,054) and includes round-trip airfare to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns, with a free stopover option in the city of Auckland, either on the way to or from Australia. Here's the best part. You can travel anytime May 1-June 8 and then again July 24-September 21, 2007. Fares for every day of the week are on sale, including some weekends. You have until September 21, 2007 to book. There are even some dates available through 2008. The offer is good for add-ons, so you can add $125 per stop and island hop among Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga or Tahiti. The fare sale also includes fuel surcharges -- which means you pay just an additional $128 in taxes.

For the more immediate traveler who seeks to go far, far away to escape winter halfway around the world (as opposed to the stereotypical choice of the Caribbean), Air New Zealand has another offer for travel from $1,550 per person from Los Angeles to Auckland or $1,636 to Christchurch, right in the height of the high season, for travel now through January 31, 2007. You can purchase tickets through January 27. The price includes fuel surcharge and excludes government fees and taxes of up to $59.

What's even better is Air New Zealand's special from Honolulu to destinations in either New Zealand or Australia. The fare sale, whose prices include fuel surcharge, starts from $663 for round-trip airfare to Auckland, Christchurch and Sydney, Australia, good for travel February 9 through May 27, but you must purchase your tickets by January 7, 2007.

If you're looking to go somewhere most people have not even touched, ATS Tours (tel. 888/781-5170; www.atstours.com) runs trips to the South Pacific and currently offers an independent, eight-day, five-night trip called "Tasmania West Coast Discovery," priced from $1,285 for Los Angeles departures. The price includes round-trip airfare, domestic flights within Australia, five nights' accommodations and a four-day automatic car rental. You must book by June 30, 2007 -- prices will fluctuate depending on the time of travel.

Newmans Vacations (tel. 800/342-1956; www.newmansvacations.com) also specializes in South Pacific trips. Right now, they are running a special to Australia, starting from $1,099. Australia is broken up into three travel zones, which can get a little complicated to explain without a visual aid in front of you, but basically, the pass price includes international flights to Australia and three domestic flights within the country. Each zone is priced based on airfare from either Honolulu or Los Angeles, plus three domestic flights. You can add on additional fees if you are departing from somewhere else in the United States, for example, so you're not restricted that way. Zone 1, priced from $1,099, includes Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tasmania -- the southeastern portion of the continent. Zone two, priced from $1,399, includes Cairns, Hayman and Hamilton Islands, and Alice Springs, and zone three, priced from $1,599, includes Perth and Broome. Within those zones, there are various price points depending on the time of year you select. Generally speaking, you can fly to Australia from the lowest price point quoted during May 1-31, 2007. The air pass is available for travel right now, too, but you need a seven-day advance purchase.

Newmans is also offering the chance to "Experience New Zealand" in eight days from $1,299. The price includes round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco on Air New Zealand, round-trip airport transfers, five nights' accommodations in Auckland, and fuel surcharges. It is important to note that the low price quoted reflects a travel period that expired December 9; travel through January 31, 2007 is priced from $1,899, but when you consider the price of just the airfare, according to the special posted here, the package makes the most sense. There may be some blackout dates, however.

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