World's 12 best places for heli-skiing according to CNN travel - New Zealand is one of them!

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(CNN) — Whop, whop, whop. The thump of the rotors fades as the helicopter lifts away. Silence, just for a moment -- a chance to drink in the pristine peaks. Then the rush of excited chatter as skis or snowboard are clicked on and the group turns to listen to the guide.

Hearts beat faster, like the noise of the aircraft that brought you here. Now it's time to plunge into paradise ...

Heli-skiing is the ultimate challenge for the powder-hungry skier or boarder in the never-ending quest to carve tracks in soft snow. Leaving the lifts and crowds far behind, it takes winter sports to a higher plane.

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Like all  luxuries, it doesn't come cheap -- and bad-weather days are an occupational hazard. But if powder is the priority, there's a heli adventure out there for everyone from decent intermediates to movie-making hotshots.

Veteran ski-film maker Warren Miller says: "If you don't go this year, you will be one year older when you do."

Southern Lakes Heli-Ski in New Zealand offers access to 3,200 square miles of skiing across 17 different mountain ranges, including the Clark Glacier.

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Why: For northern hemisphere dwellers seeking an endless winter, and southerners with a sense of adventure.

Southern Lakes Heli-Ski operates out of Queenstown and Wanaka from July to September, with access to 3,200 square miles across 11 different mountain ranges, including the Clark Glacier. Most terrain lies between 3,937 and 8,480 feet, with a typical run from 1,968 to 3,280 feet vertical.

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