Niseko Ski Area has seen immense change over the past decade with international customers travelling here to experience the beauty of the prevalent area. With its combination of world-class restaurants, retail offerings and a plethora of off-mountain activities, it has become a winter getaway haven. By following this guide, we will show you how to find those powder pockets away from the crowds during your holiday in the Niseko Ski Resort area.
In many cases, globally, night skiing can be somewhat underwhelming with minimal terrain and firm runs due to the rapid drop in temperature. Niseko is a different story. The Niseko Ski Resort area is known for its ability to generate mass amounts of snow in a remarkably short amount of time. If a late afternoon dump hits when the majority of the township has retired for the day, it can leave you with the opportunity to get new lines for a good 3-4 hours. It is not uncommon for the tracks you made on the way down to be filled in by the time you get back to the top. Aside from the snow, Niseko is also set apart from other resorts that offer night skiing due to the massive amounts of rideable terrain. With four lifts including a gondola, roughly 60% of the Grand Hirafu area remains open between 8:00 pm – 8:30 pm. Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in Niseko will agree night skiing is arguably the best time to ride here.
The Niseko Ski Resort area is fortunate enough to be surrounded by a few other resorts that are absolute gems that you can visit for a low cost. With transportation offerings readily available for a low cost, we recommended that you try exploring outside the Niseko Ski Resort area for at least one day.
Located just a short thirty-minute drive away, Rusutsu is fast becoming one of Japan’s most desirable winter destinations. As it is situated in close proximity to Niseko, it receives roughly the same amount and quality of snow that the Niseko Ski Resort is famous for. It is widely considered to have some of the best tree riding available anywhere in the world with terrain that caters to the extremely experienced right through to beginners. This exceptional resort has recently received its third consecutive award for Japan’s Best Ski Resort.
Moiwa is technically the fifth mountain of the Niseko Ski Area, however, it is not part of the Niseko United pass so requires an additional day pass purchase. During the middle of winter, after a big night of snowfall, people will flock to Niseko’s major resorts while Moiwa remains hidden and virtually empty. There are a range of runs that become perfect powder blankets catering to all experience levels, and as we like to say, “it’s always a good day at Moiwa!”
An inexpensive way of exploring some of Niseko’s off-piste offerings is to go on one of the many backcountry tours available around the village. If you’re an experienced rider and new to the area, we recommend hiring a knowledgeable guide to lead you around within the resort boundaries to gain some insider information. Doing this early in the trip is a great idea to get you well acquainted for the rest of your holiday.
If you’re wanting to do a bit more adventuring but not keen on a full day of hiking, you can book a side country tour. These tours primarily use the lifts to access the terrain surround the Niseko United area, and with a small amount of hiking, you can find some excellent turns.
For those who are more experienced and want to give themselves a workout, a full backcountry tour is recommended. Like most backcountry, what is accessible varies from day to day depending on the weather and snowpack. If you haven’t had much backcountry experience in the area, please consult a guide before attempting to do so.
One way in which you can experience the backcountry or a featured number of surrounding resorts is by utilising Platinum Pro. Enjoy door to door service with the best instructors/guides the village has to offer, leading you to the best powder stashes in the area while also helping you improve your craft.
When the snow has fallen, booking yourself on a cat-ski tour may afford you one of the best days riding you’ve ever had. It provides an excellent way to enter controlled backcountry with seasoned guides ensuring you are both safe and getting the best turns of your life. The Niseko Ski Area is surrounded by abandoned resorts that were a result of the economic crash felt throughout the country in the late 1980s. These sites make the perfect place to go cat skiing given they’ve been cleared of any obstacles and provide open slathers of untouched pow!
If you’re someone who is looking for the ultimate winter experience in the Niseko Ski Area you simply cannot go past heli-skiing. Not only are you presented with long, untouched runs of champagne powder, but also get to witness the beautiful Hokkaido landscape from the best seat possible. Black Diamond Tours are the sole providers of heli-ski tours in the region, which require prior booking as early as possible. The guides on these tours are the most knowledgeable of the knowledgeable; they will teach you about avalanche rescue procedures and ensure you have the most enjoyable day possible. If you’re able to get yourself onto one of these tours, please do, you will not regret it!
The Niseko Ski Resort area is a powder hunters dream. The depth and quality are unparalleled anywhere in the world. Now that the secret is out, those who want those endless deep lines have to put in a little more effort, but in the end, we believe that makes it makes it far more rewarding! Check out our tours page for all the on-snow offerings, and we will see you out in the deep stuff!