Key Points:

There are many cruel truths in life: the cherry season is short, wrinkles are inevitable and if you're a short woman who adores fashion, you're pretty much out of luck.

Because, let's face it, most high-end clothing is designed for Amazons with legs up to their necks. When it comes time to shop, the apparel industry tends to give women of my small stature the short end of the stick.

Hence, the Papal kiss I felt compelled to bestow on Hong Kong. Thanks to the naturally petite size of most local women, this is a small woman's shopping nirvana, and a trip here can change your self-perception forever.

For the uninitiated, shopping in Hong Kong is more than just a way of spending hours and dollars. Among the territory's seven million inhabitants, it's almost recognised as a religion and, for short people, it truly is shopping's holy grail.

There are five key shopping districts: Central, Admiralty and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island, and Tsim Tsa Tsui and Mong Kok on Kowloon.

On both islands you have the choice between rock-bottom bargains and jaw-droppingly expensive emporia, where names such as Prada, Gucci, and Harvey Nichols cater to the Jimmy Choo crowd, who, incidentally, don't have to risk scuffing their expensive footware in search of the goodies: in a space of only 11sq km (more than two-thirds of which is rural land or protected green space), there are three John Paul Gaultier stores, seven, (yes, seven) Vivienne Westwood outlets and Armani's largest retail space outside Milan.

However, if your budget is more modest - and you don't have a problem with buying sample, seconds or copy goods - head to Kowloon's markets and narrow side streets.

If your Hong Kong dollars started life as Kiwi dollars, Kowloon prices will seem super cheap - and in how many places in the world can we say that?

A good place to start is Tsim Sha Tsui and, specifically, the Silvercord Centre, where you'll find the sale outlet for one of China's biggest clothing chains, IT, which is awash with bargains from brands such as Mui Mui and Helmut Lang, plus IT's own labels, such as Izzure.

In nearby Granville Rd, however, I was like a child overdosing on sugar. Here, factory outlets rule and the queen of them all was Maple, where my suitcase grew heavier and my wallet lighter, although not by much. Tops run to about NZ$15 each, pants $20 and jackets about $30.

The only downside to Hong Kong's outlet shops is that you generally can't try on the clothes (changing rooms don't exist). You're left to bag your bargains using just your eye to judge size, but hey, with these prices you can afford to take a few risks.

Down a narrow alleyway is the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Granville Circuit, where the multi-layered Rise Commercial Building gives no indication of the goodies that lie within.

Similar to Causeway Bay's Island Beverly, the minuscule shops feature stonking great bargains from local designers and samples/seconds from international labels such as Chloe, Prada and Stella McCartney. And you can try clothes on.

About 15 minutes' drive away (get a cab, they're cheap and safe) is Hung Hom, the territory's factory district, where made-for-export, ready-to-wear fashion and jewellery are available. It's hard to restrain oneself when everything is built with your size in mind, so I didn't; it was only when the credit card started melting that I realised it was time to go.

Jump on the affordable, clean and safe Metro (MTR) to Mong Kok, where the world-famous Ladies Market piles clothing, accessories and sportswear high and flogs them off cheap.

There are 14 million elbows in Hong Kong and all of them seemed to be out the day I visited, but that's the thing about market shopping here: you have to be prepared to barge through crowds, distil the gems from the dross, and haggle, which, by now, I was a seasoned pro at.

I came away with three tops, two skirts, a cute pair of bejewelled Chinese slippers, a necklace and three T-shirts, all for under NZ$200.

But it was the handbags that were my undoing. I scored a fire-engine red replica of a Chloe Paddington bag for NZ$40 and a sleek black Hermes Birkin for about the same price.

If you're not shopped-out by now, head to the Temple Street Night Market, which runs from 6pm-11.30pm. Or, better still, grab a double-decker bus for a scenic, if somewhat hairy, ride along the coast to Stanley Market.

For my dosh, this long-standing market isn't as good as its Mong Kok cousin but Stanley's advantage is its proximity to a range of seaside pubs, cafes and restaurants where you can carb-up for the next leg of your retail marathon.

My shopping du jour, however, has to be what's commonly known as The Lanes, a squeeze of narrow streets running between Central's Queen's Rd East and Des Voux Rd. The market features the usual suspects, but don't miss the shops that sit behind the stalls.

Here, I found a beautifully cut, cream winter coat for NZ$70 that sits mid-calf on my short legs without having been near a tailor.

Hong Kong isn't just the place for great dumplings and gobsmacking bargains, it's also a haven for the short; like Hobbiton with better fashion sense.

Sharon Stephenson was a guest of Flight Centre and The Hong Kong Tourism Board.

- Detours, HoS