Escapism

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Less bang for your buck

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The collapse of the kiwi dollar - as foreign investors flee to the safety of the big currencies - has certainly made trips abroad more expensive. But although the news is pretty much all bad it is less bad in some places than in others.

In the past 12 months, on a trade weighted basis, the kiwi has fallen around 30 per cent. Within that overall movement, however, are a lot of variations.

Against the Japanese yen, for instance, our poor battered bird has declined by a whopping 42 per cent, meaning Tokyo is not the place to go for a cheap holiday at this time (though, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to find good cheap accommodation and food there if you look for it).

The rest of Asia doesn't look too good, either, with the kiwi having lost around a third of its value in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

The big exception is South Korea where, due to the disastrous collapse in exports, the won has fallen almost as fast as the kiwi.

Incredibly, considering the United States is where this whole shambles started, the kiwi has lost 39 per cent of its value against the greenback in a year. It's a bit better across the border in Canada but our spending power is still down by 19 per cent there.

Things aren't a whole lot better if you're hoping to go to Europe because we've dropped 26 per cent against the euro.

But, if you head north to Scandinavia, you'll find the kiwi has lost only 7 per cent of its value in Sweden and 14 per cent in Norway.

Or, if you go to Britain rather than mainland Europe, you'll find the kiwi has lost just 13 per cent against the pound - bad enough, sure, but a lot better than a 26 per cent fall - so your hard-earned money will go a bit further.

Even Fijian holidays sound a bit expensive when you discover that the kiwi has fallen 22 per cent against the Fijian dollar (though because of the continuing political problems there are a lot of good package holidays on offer).

And other Pacific Islands look just as expensive with our spending power down by around a quarter in the likes of Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

On a cheerier note, if you're thinking of heading across the Tasman, which is where most of us do go when we travel overseas, things aren't quite so bad. In the last year we've only lost 9 per cent against the Australian dollar.

Right now, though, the cheapest place to holiday is right here in New Zealand ... or in the Cook Islands where they use our dollar.

- Jim Eagles

- NZ Herald

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