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Flying over the Canadian Rockies

10:30 AEST Thu Mar 10 2011
Giaan Rooney realised one of her 100 things to do when she joined pilot Chad Nichol from Alpine Helicopters for a flight high above the Canadian Rockies.

They've been doing the flights since 1986 and a half-hour trip takes in three mountains, known as the Three Sisters, Spray Valley and The Rockies. It follows the Bow River, which has multimillion-dollar homes on its banks.

The flight starts in Canmore near the beautiful town of Banff, and heads to an area accessible only by a three- to five-day hike.

Before long you are over the rugged Gloria Glacier. It is around a 60m thick and regularly has icefalls with large chunks tumbling from Mt Assiniboine. It's quite something to experience — from a distance!

Mt Assiniboine is known as the Matterhorn of the Rockies. It towers at 3611m along the Great Divide, 460m above its neighbours, and while it can only be seen from a relatively lightly travelled roadside location, its grandness has made it one of the Rockies' most recognised mountains.

It rises between two national parks: Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park and Banff National Park. Glaciers and icefalls join in to make some of the most breathtaking scenery you will ever enjoy.

It was named in 1885 when it reminded someone of smoke plumes wafting from the teepees of the Assiniboine people.

When they entered the Charles Stewart area, Chad told Giaan it's not uncommon for him to drop off a bride, groom and marriage celebrant and collect them when they are man and wife.


Canmore, an hour west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.


Alpine Helicopters 30-minute scenic flights are around $253 per person. Coffee, tea and ground transportation are included in the Banff or Canmore areas.

Air New Zealand has flights to Vancouver from:

  • Sydney $2141
  • Melbourne $2221
  • Brisbane $2245
  • Perth $2405
  • Adelaide $2430

Conditions apply.

Connections to Calgary are available.

Prices correct at March 10, 2011.

For further information

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

Adventure World
Ph: 1300 363 055

Alpine Helicopters
91 Bow Valley Trail
Alberta T1W 1L7
Ph: +403 678 4802

Visas: Australians do not require a visa for stays of up to six months. Passports must be valid for the period of the intended stay.

Electricity: 110V at 60Hz using plugs with two vertical pins.

Time zone: Alberta is GMT -7.

Currency: The Canadian dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

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