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Writer Cathy Whitlock spends a night on Brando Island, actor Marlon Brando's South Pacific hideaway that has been transformed into a 5-star getaway.

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New Zealand is not a cheap holiday. Just getting there from North America or Europe will cost you a pretty penny. So here's some ideas on how to save money while travelling Down Under.

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BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA — Here, family is the single most important thing in the lives of the locals. We experience that first-hand when we see Maui Taati in the blue and white outrigger Keishi as he approaches the dock with two passengers, his wife Nina and 6-year-old son Kenji.

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MY EARLY MEMORIES of New Zealand from when I was quite little was that it’s a magical, kind-of mystical place. I’ve been so fortunate to return, thanks to my career, and every time I come back the more I discover, and my love for this place just grows deeper.

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FRENCH POLYNESIA, most notably Tahiti and Bora Bora, come to the top of the page of many folks’ Bucket List destinations. Technically located in the seven island group called The Society Islands it also includes Moorea, Taha’a, Raiatea, and lesser known islands Huahine and Tetiaroa.

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OAMEA, FIJI - My Fijian wish list was simple: I wanted to skip the luxury resorts run by faceless international conglomerates and visit native villages where I could meet the chiefs, mingle with the kids, check out the schools and sit down with a family or two for a home-cooked dinner of chicken curry or fish stew.

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AUCKLAND - New Zealand above sea level is pretty spectacular. Below sea level, it’e even more beautiful. Pity so few see it. But if you are a diver or snorkeler, New Zealand offers some awesome sites for you to explore.

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MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND - It’s hard to decide which is better — New Zealand’s wine or the breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the regions where the grapes are grown.

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AUCKLAND - While there are plenty of ways to get around in New Zealand, one of the most fun is on two wheels. With so many options – motorcycle tours, biking in a wine region, or riding the New Zealand Cycle Trail — visitors can lift their feet off the ground and check out the sights, sounds and magic of the country.

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AUCKLAND - Going on vacation always seems like a bit of a splurge, no matter what your budget. And for many, New Zealand is the ultimate tick off the bucket list that requires a great commitment of time and cash. While there are plenty of budget and reasonably-priced places to stay on both the North and South Islands, there is a growing trend for even the most budget-conscious visitors to take a night or two and indulge themselves by staying at one of the country’s nicer lodges or hotels.