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Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand-Auckland: Beach (Photo: iStockphoto/Linda & Colin McKie)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on March 27, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Auckland, Buenos Aires, currency exchange, destination, Florence, Hamburg, Ho Chi Minh City, hotel, Krakow, London, Miami, Mumbai, New York City, Panama City, Paris, Sarah Pascarella, vacation package, vacation rental.

It may take awhile to get to Auckland, but this Middle-Earth-esque, adventure-packed destination offers rewards for those willing to make the trek. Hike, surf, bungee jump, or stargaze; taste local wines and cheeses; or take a glass-bottom boat ride to see nature up close. Most amazing of all, perhaps, is that this far-flung adventure can be cheaper than a trip to Europe.

The value is in the currency. At press time, $1 USD buys you $1.40 New Zealand dollars, which goes a long way toward containing your in-country costs. Round-trip flights from Los Angeles cost $765 for spring travel, and I found a three-star hotel from $78 per night. A one-week spring vacation for two would cost $2,076.

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I then took a look at a spring vacation in Hamburg, Germany, a strategic alliance city to Auckland and one also known for an artsy, creative culture; an active sporting scene; and fine dining. Round-trip airfares from Los Angeles came in at $807 in May, and a three-star hotel in the city center cost $115 per night. Based on these prices, a one-week vacation would cost $2,419 for two people traveling together.

While Hamburg is already more than $300 pricier than the New Zealand trip, the major sticker shock is the daily expenditures under the euro. As discussed in previous European comparisons, the dollar is still weaker than the euro, and inflated prices for food and transportation can add up fast. According to the TEFL Professional Network, a fast-food meal in Hamburg can cost €7 (about $9.50) and a beer €4 (approximately $5.40). It's not unusual for two- or three-star hotel rooms around town to go for €140 ($189 U.S.). Add in a few non-fast-food meals, museum admissions, some upscale cocktails, and you see where the budget is going.

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