Activities & Tours
There are sooooo many things to do in and around Niseko Japan
. You can go on a guided Niseko ski tour
), go heli skiing
, head to a nearby ski resort
, try Niseko cat skiing
, or if you need a rest day from skiing or snowboarding, there are a plethora of other Niseko activities on offer.
Niseko Ski Tours - Single Day/s
Niseko Off-Piste Tours
There are an abundance of Niseko guided ski tours on offer. These tend to book up well in advance so get in early!
Niseko off-piste ski and snowboard tours stay within the Niseko resort boundaries and offer insider knowledge to find the best off-piste skiing Niseko has to offer. WhiteRoom Tours offer day off-piste tours
that are suitable for strong intermediate riders and above.
offer private in-bounds tours so you can easily find the powder stashes.
Side-country tours access some of the areas just outside the resort boundaries (ie sidecountry aka slackcountry). The tours may involve a tiny little bit of hiking but primarily use the chair lifts to access all that fabulous powder.
offer private tours of the famous Niseko back bowls sidecountry.
GoSnow offers Niseko powder guiding with as little or as much hiking and/or traversing as you want. The instructors can also give you a few powder riding tips along the way if you like, although the minimum ability level is advanced. Instruction and use of avalanche safety gear is included in the rates:
Black Diamond Tours offer sidecountry tours of Niseko, although dubbed as the PowderHunter Tour
it provides flexibility to visit other ski area areas if the Niseko gates are closed, or weather or snow conditions are not conducive to visiting the Niseko sidecountry. The Powderhounds have been on one of these tours and can highly recommend it. It was awesome!
Niseko Backcountry Tours
There are various areas for Niseko backcountry skiing and snowboarding where you can score guaranteed fresh tracks. With these guided tours you’ll generally need human steam to get up the mountain ie earn your turns, although Niseko Xtreme
also offer sled skiing (ie snowmobile access skiing and snowboarding).
also offers a range of other backcountry tours including an option for Mt Yotei.
Rising Sun Guides
offer private tours from Niseko for 1-5 people, to access a variety of backcountry areas including Mt Yotei on fine days.
Black Diamond Tours offer a variety of single day backcountry tours
, the location of which are dependent on the weather and snowpack. The Powderhounds have been on a tour to the Nito backcountry with BDT, and we were impressed!
For those with superhuman fitness, BDTs offer trips to the summit of the massive Mt Yotei, although these can only occur on fine days, which are somewhat rare in the peak of winter.
NAC also offers backcountry skiing and boarding day tours in the Niseko Range (Chisenupuri, Nitonupuri, Iwaonupuri) as well as the BIG BOY - Mt Yotei. Backcountry guiding and enquiry links:
Heli Skiing Niseko
Niseko Heli Skiing is ichi-ban because it offers the perfect combination of the best powder in the world and the ultimate lift, a helicopter! Unlike a couple of other Japan heli skiing outfits that offer very lame helicopter accessed skiing, Hokkaido Backcountry Club
offers “real” heli skiing that includes qualified backcountry guides and some fabulously steep terrain and long runs. The heli skiing is on Shiribetsu-dake adjacent to Rusutsu Resort and only half an hour drive from Niseko (transfers between your accommodation and the staging area are included). Check out the information and reviews on the HBC Heli Skiing
As all that abundant powder doesn’t fall from clear skies, it comes as no great surprise that the heli skiing has to work around the windows of fine weather when the helicopter can fly.
Niseko Cat Skiing
If you’re not even sure what this cat skiing caper is all about, you can find out more on our snowcat skiing
overview page. Niseko has a couple of tour operators that offer cat skiing and cat boarding.
Weiss Cat Skiing
is located at the former ski resort of Weisshorn next to Hanazono. The snowcat skiing is absolutely perfect for intermediate and low-end advanced riders or those fairly new to the joys of powder. The terrain has lots of wide open runs where you can let it rip as well as some generously spaced trees! This provides a great opportunity to practise the art of powder riding in fresh snow and without pressure.
Chisenupuri Cat Skiing
operates at the former ski resort of Chisenupuri and is ideal for those learning to ski or snowboard in powder in the trees or more open spacers. For any apprentice powder hound heading to Niseko, Chisenupuri cat skiing is a lust-do!
The main target market of Weiss and Chisenupuri are not the advanced or expert rider who is looking for steeps and leaps. Advanced riders should check out the Rising Sun Cat Skiing
outfit (formerly operated by Niseko Snowcat Adventures), that offers steeper runs (with some pillows and mushrooms) in real backcountry terrain rather than on an abandoned ski resort (as with Weiss cat skiing). The day cat skiing packages include transport to and from your Niseko accommodation.
Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures offer 2 day cat skiing trips. The terrain includes some steeps and a combination of trees and alpine, and plenty of Hokkaido powder. The cat skiing is 2 hours south of Niseko and transport from your Niseko accommodation is included as part of the package. More information here….
Tours to Nearby Resorts
There are various ski resorts nearby that don’t receive as much skier traffic as Niseko, so they’re great to visit for a day trip to chase the powder. Nearby resorts include Rusutsu, Kiroro, Moiwa, Sapporo Teine and Sapporo Kokusai. If you want to get the most out of these resorts, it’s best to go on a day tour with a Niseko guide who can show you all the best powder stashes.
Rising Sun Guides
offer private guided trips from Niseko to nearby ski resorts to ride the sidecountry.
WRTs also offer various Niseko guided day ski tours
to nearby resorts. Get together a group of like-minded riders.
Black Diamond Tours offer the Powder Hunter
program which are for PRIVATE groups that goes to the most ideal location each day depending on the snow, avalanche and weather conditions. Potential tour locations include the Niseko Back Bowls as well as Rusutsu, Kiroro, Sapporo Teine or Sapporo Kokusai. The guided tours include off-piste and sidecountry terrain.
A soak in a hot spring bath (onsen) is the perfect remedy for aching muscles, and it’s also a quintessential activity whilst at a Japanese ski resort.
Some of the Niseko hotels have onsens that are only open to hotel guests (e.g. Chalet Ivy
, Ki Niseko
), whilst a few other hotels allow non-guests to use the onsen for a fee. The Vale hotel onsen is open to the public. The Vale hot spring baths are delightfully decked out with timber and stone work, and you can choose from an indoor or outdoor onsen. Don’t fear that the people skiing down the Family Run will be able to peak at you in the outdoor onsen – it’s not like the hotel onsen further up the hill!
Hirafu has a few other public onsens. We can recommend the Yukoro onsen in Hirafu which is clean and pleasant and a reasonably traditional Japanese experience.
There is a large concentration of onsens in the An’nupuri and Konbu Onsen area, with various shuttle options to get there.
The An’nupuri onsen (Niseko Grand Hotel – Konbu onsen area) can be a bit of fun but it’s more of a touristy onsen. The bathing area is mixed (ie males and females), and this is quite fortunate or unfortunate depending upon your view of things. The change rooms are segregated thankfully, and if you’re still a bit shy, make sure you visit the onsen at night time, grab multiple modesty towels, or purchase one of the funny little dresses to “cover” yourself!
Of course remember that visiting an onsen requires some etiquette and respect for local customs. Snow angels in the nuddy are probably not good manners! See our onsen
overview page for tips on how to use an onsen.
Niseko Kids Activities
Beyond snowball throwing, Niseko has lots of kids’ activities on offer. Lucky, because often the powder is too dry at Niseko to make a snowball!
Niseko has a few dedicated snow parks (Annupuri, Hanazono and Hirafu) that have kids’ toys and tobogganing and tubing. Other options include snow rafting or zip lining (for the big kids too!).
There are a few companies that offer snowmobiling
and snow biking
which is like a cross between a dirt bike and snowmobile (but a lot more fun than either) or other adventure activities include indoor rock climbing
Day Sightseeing Trips
In early February a visit to the Sapporo Snow Festival
is a highlight to see the huge statues and sculptures created in ice. It’s possible to catch a train from Kutchan or Niseko to Sapporo – see the Hypermedia website for fares and schedules. Or check in with the Niseko Tourism office for bus timetables, or you can get a private charter transfer to Sapporo
(see drop-down menu items).
A train trip to the seaside town of Otaru is also interesting. It’s novel to see snow at sea level, but it’s also nice to look at the historic canals, the seafood market, the glass crafts, the wacky Japanese shops, and indulge in some Japanese culture. A train from Kutchan to Otaru takes about 1 hour to 1:20 hours, and from there, Otaru is easy enough to explore on foot. Otherwise you can head there with Limousine Sightseeing
. The information centre at Otaru station can provide English maps that outline the various tourist attractions.
A day trip to Lake Toya (about 45 mins from Niseko) is also very worthwhile. Lake Toya is a volcanic caldera lake, and the associated Mount Usu is a very active volcano which last erupted in 2000. There is a museum that outlines lots of fascinating information about this geothermal region, and not surprisingly, the area also features various hot springs (onsens).
offers private transport services for small groups of up and large (up to 12) to a variety of locations in Hokkaido from Niseko.
Niseko has various day spa facilities and lots of massage services.