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Most Americans know the kiwi as that hairy little egg-shaped fruit with the sweet green starburst core. A kiwi is also one of those sidesteps in Darwinian evolution -- a small to medium-sized bird that never developed (or simply lost) its power of flight after living in a predator-free environment for millennia. With a capital "K," a Kiwi is any person from New Zealand -- something all three have in common. You can get to know each one on its own terms by heading down to the Aotearoa (Maori for "The Land of the Long White Cloud"). We've found a decent airfare sale and an even better-priced package to help cut the cost.

First up is that fare sale via national carrier Air New Zealand (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com). You have until August 12 to make reservations on flights out of either Los Angeles or San Francisco in to one of four Kiwi cities through December 8 -- when the peak travel season begins there. (Remember, NZ is in the Southern Hemisphere, so when it's winter up north, it's summer down south.)

Base-fares to the North Island:

  • Auckland $798
  • Wellington $862

Base-fares to the South Island:

  • Christchurch $862
  • Queenstown $962

Departures are on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are no black out dates for travel, but some fares in late November and into December, when it warms up, have already sold out. Taxes for these flights are relatively inexpensive, amounting to no more than about $60, and base-fares already include any additional surcharges. For an extra $90, travelers can also add a stopover in Fiji on southbound flights or $200 more on northbound flights.

Starting from only $979, steady Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) just announced a sale on its eight-day/six-night package to Auckland. The "New Zealand Super Sale" includes your roundtrip airfare out of Los Angeles (most likely on AirNZ), two nights' accommodations in the tourist class City Central Motel and six-days' car rental with unlimited mileage. Hotel taxes and all taxes and fees on your vehicle are included as well. Upgrades to the swankier, more-in-the-thick-it Hilton and a full-size car cost from $1,199. Travel is valid through December 8, 2005, with a buy-by date set at August 17.

Talk with fellow travelers on our New Zealand Message Boards today.