AUSTRALIA is number one dream holiday destination, according to a survey carried out by Sky TV's Travel Channel. One in four respondents put it top of their 'wish list'. As Christmas nears, fares to Australia rise and available seats decline: but Air New Zealand has a good deal to Sydney, bypassing New Zealand.

On 1 November (the day the air passenger duty takes effect in the UK), the airline launches a new service from Gatwick with a single stop in Los Angeles. Quest Worldwide (081-547 3322) is selling tickets for pounds 762 return, including tax; a saving of well over pounds 200 compared with one-stop services on British Airways and Qantas.

Meantime, STA Travel (071-937 9962) has a round-the world itinerary taking in Bangkok, Manila, Sydney, Christchurch, Auckland, Tonga, Los Angeles and New York. The catches are that you must depart from London in November, and cover the sectors within New Zealand and the US under your own steam. The price is competitive, however, at pounds 810 - and only pounds 762 for students and people under 26. Taxes add another pounds 20.