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This week's smart deal is straightforward. Off-season rates can be enticing, in general, and the special from Air New Zealand (tel. 800/262-1234; www.airnewzealand.com) is no exception. The airline is advertising a great fare of $848 per person for travel the entire month of May, which means travel during its fall season.

There are some stipulations. You must depart from either San Francisco or Los Angeles to Auckland, which is located on the North Island. The advertised price includes airline fuel surcharges but excludes government fees and taxes, which could add up to $150. And reading the fine print on this promotion may save you some money -- there may be cheaper fares available during this travel period, but not enough to sufficiently advertise them as part of the promotion. So if you can be flexible, the airline recommends selecting the option "show prices across a week" to see if the price drops lower. The booking deadline is February 24.

New Zealand is a study in natural extremes, from beaches to snowy mountains to fjords to award-winning wineries to a vibrant indigenous Maori culture. Other New Zealand destinations, such as Wellington on the North Island or Christchurch and Queenstown on the South Island, are also possible for an additional $100 charge. Or you may also add on a stopover to somewhere in the South Pacific the airline flies, such as Tonga or Samoa or the Cook Islands, for no additional charge.

FYI: The airline's other destinations in this promotion, called "Love is in the Air," include Australia from $798 and Samoa from $897, for various travel dates between now and May 18.

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