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Rundown for the Week of December 19, 2003

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Destination of the Week: New Zealand

It's a great time of year to experience New Zealand, the ultimate outdoors country. The sun is warm, the flowers are in bloom, the grapes are ripening on the vines, and the "Lord of the Rings" fans are out in droves. But there's much more to do in New Zealand than just visit what remains of the Middle Earth sets.

Web resource: Info. on how to get to New Zealand and what to do while there

photo: R. Jensen
Traveling into Middle Earth
by Dmae Roberts
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While the "Lord of the Rings" movies may have put New Zealand in the spotlight, the country has been on the radar for a long time for many travelers drawn to the gorgeous landscapes and the fascinating culture. Independent producer Dmae Roberts takes us past what remains of the Hobbit sets and into a country filled with Maori traditions and incredible natural surroundings.

Funding for this story made possible by Hearing Voices through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Web resources
Links to places talked about in this story
More stories by Dmae Roberts

Wacky New Zealand
an interview with Gregg Anderson
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If you're an action-adventure type, New Zealand is probably the foremost place in the world for you. Why? It's the birthplace of bungy jumping. Now, the locals are on to other wild activities. Host Diana Nyad talks with Gregg Anderson, regional director, North America, for Tourism New Zealand, about crazy things you can do there, from bungy jumping to zorbing.

Web resources: Links to some of the adventures discussed in this segment

Anniversary of Flight
by Jad Abumrad

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It was 100 years ago when the Wright brothers first got an airplane to soar for an extended time. Producer Jad Abumrad went back to Kitty Hawk, N.C., where it all started, to talk to people who know the Orville and Wilbur story best, such as Amanda Wright Lane, the great-grandniece of the brothers, historians and aeronautical experts. They paint a picture of one of the grand moments in the history of human civilization.

Web resources
www.nps.gov/wrbr/: National Park Service - Wright Brothers National Memorial, North Carolina
sln.fi.edu/wright/: Franklin Institute Online
www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/Wright/: NASA tribute to the Wright brothers

Related stories
"Flying the National Air Tour by Hal Humphreys
"Interview with flying legend Red Cary"

Taking the Silent Retreat
by Rachel Dornhelm

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One of the newest kinds of retreats to hit the U.S. is the silent retreat, which gives people who do meditation the chance to practice in a group. They typically last anywhere from three days to three months. And over the last decade, like many kinds of spiritual destinations, they've become increasingly popular spots for vacation time. What is it like traveling to silence? Rachel Dornhelm took the journey and found out.

Web resource: www.dharma.org, Web site for the Insight Meditation Society

Music with Bob Duskis
Last-minute Gifts

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Bob Duskis, co-founder of Six Degrees Records in San Francisco, is our world music guide. This week, he joins us with some great ideas for last-minute holiday gifts: his favorite world music tracks of 2003. All albums are available on PRMS.org. Your purchase helps support The Savvy Traveler.

Gifts mentioned
group / album title / cuts / label

The Cathedral Brass / "Christmas Remixed" / songs: "Joy to the World" and Bing Crosby "Happy Holidays" Six Degrees Records
Sevara Nazarkhan / "Yol Bolsi" / song: "Yol Bolsi" / Real World
Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban / "Mambo Sinuendo" / song: "Monte a Dentro" / nonesuch
Karsh Kale / "Liberation" / song: "Milan" / Six Degrees

Available at the Public Music Radio Source. Your purchase helps support The Savvy Traveler.

Interested in other music you've heard on The Savvy Traveler?
Click here for music selected by Savvy producer Ben Adair.

Sound Travels
Maori Singers, New Zealand

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Sound Travels takes us to New Zealand, where producer Dmae Roberts brings us one more taste of the ancient culture there. Picture this: It's nighttime in the dark woods and Maori singers are huddling around disparate campfires while visitors walk from one to the next, on their way to the meeting house. It's an experience you'll find nowhere else -- only in New Zealand.

Savvy resource: More "Sound Travels" segments

Deal of the Week
Get Away to Middle Earth

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Since it's such a beautiful time of year to go to New Zealand right now, our Travel-Expert-in-Residence, Rudy Maxa, has a special package deal to get you to the land of the kiwis: New Zealand for a week with car and lodging for a great price in January and most of February.

Keep in mind you're flying quite a distance. This package from Air New Zealand includes a roundtrip flight between Los Angeles and Auckland, a compact car with unlimited miles for eight days, seven nights in hotels, plus a "Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook" to send you on your way -- all for less than $1,900 a person in January and most of February. The price is based on two people traveling together and includes taxes.

Is it cheaper any other time? Well, if you visit between Feb. 23rd and late April, it's about $250 less per person. And during their winter, which, of course, is our summer, you'll find this package as low as $1,400 per person.

And, since most of the "Lord of the Rings" movies were filmed on the country's South Island, you might want to take a flight down to Queenstown and pick up a car there if you really have your heart set on seeing Middle Earth.

Web resource: For details on Air New Zealand's packages, click on www.airnz.co.nz and choose "worldwide sites" from the upper right-hand corner of the airline's homepage. Select "United States" and then "Vacation Packages." Or, you may call Newman's South Pacific Vacations at (800) 416-0667, though prices are about $50 more per person there for the January and February travel periods.

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