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Redeeming AA miles for New Zealand for January 2013?

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Help-I am somewhat confused and perplexed as I have redeemed air miles before but not at the last minute as I have to do now. I have AA miles that I want to use on one of their code share airlines to get down to New Zealand at the end of January (leaving around the 21st?) to meet up with my daughter who will be in Christchurch.I am trying to figure out how to get from ORD down to NZ using my miles in a postive way.
I really want to fly in business class as I just had a double knee replacement less than 6 months ago so I can stretch out. Most of the flights on Qantas are completely booked in business so was looking at other options like Cathay Pacific,Japan airlines,etc.?
If I call AA res, do I have to pay a fee when booking one of their partners using my miles or can most people book these routes on their own.
I would be most appreciative for any imput,thoughts or ideas on how to do this. Thanks!

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