Niseko is regarded as one of the world's best ski resorts and is an extremely popular destination for Australians. Niseko has been voted Japan's #1 ski resort multiple times, and it's well-deserved. Renowned for some of the driest, lightest powder in the world, Niseko offers an unforgettable experience for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
Niseko is located on the South Western side of Japan’s North Island, Hokkaido. To get there, fly into New-Chitose Airport, just outside Hokkaido’s capital of Sapporo, then transfer approximately 3 hours to Hirafu Village.
Niseko is a mecca for powder hounds, with the consistent powder or JaPow keeping visitors coming back every year. The unique weather pattern that Niseko receives is usually referred to as ‘The Lake Effect’. The Lake Effect is amplified here, winds cross the cold, vast and dry Siberian plains, which then collect moisture as they blow over the ‘lake’ in this instance, the Sea of Japan. When this front hits the land of the rising sun, these conditions provide the best conditions for light, dry, powder snow to fall, and lots of it. There you have it – the perfect (powder) storm!
Where to stay in Niseko
Most of Niseko’s accommodation is located in Hirafu Village, which is nestled onto the side of Grand Hirafu ski area, with stunning views across the valley to Mt Yotei. Accommodation in the snow covered Hirafu Village can be split into Upper and Lower village areas. The most coveted locations are slope side and true ski in ski out in the upper village. Niseko’s Upper Village streets provide easy walking access to the Ace Quad chair and Hirafu Gondola. The Lower Village accommodation can be slightly cheaper, and require an uphill walk to the base area, or a quick shuttle bus trip to save the legs for the powder turns!
Wrapped around the base of the mountain is neighbouring Niseko Village, about a 15 minute drive on from Hirafu. Niseko Village is a resort area, mainly comprising of the ski in ski our Hilton and the Green Leaf Hotels and their dining and retail options.
Where to ski in Niseko
Niseko United comprises of four ski areas, wrapping around the faces of Mt Annupuri – Annupuri, Niseko, Hirafu and Hanazono are all inter-linked at the summit for easy access. Combined these for areas equate to nearly 2,200 acres of skiable terrain. Niseko boasts an annual average snowfall of 14m, which is why powder-lovers flock to the region. To compare to local Australian ski resorts generally get 2 or 3m a year. Night skiing is very popular in Niseko, the flood lit areas for night skiing are extensive, open until 8:30-9pm daily during most of the season, and included on our Niseko United lift pass. Cat skiing, off piste and tree skiing is also popular in Niseko, with lots of varied terrain and fresh powder pockets to be discovered.
Getting Around Niseko:
Walking from the top to the bottom of Hirafu Village should only take 20 minutes - if you don’t get distracted along the way! We understand if that might be a little too much to handle after a day of waist deep powder turns, shuttle buses operate throughout the village on a number of routes, to get you where to need to go around Hirafu, Niseko Village & Hanazono.
How to get to Niseko
Flights from Australia into Niseko usually fly via Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, althought Qantas has been talking about a direct Sydney to Niseko flight. From Tokyo it is only 1.5 hours into New-Chitose Airport and approximately 3 hours from the airport to Hirafu Village in Niseko. A range of carriers operate flights that connect easily to Niseko including Qantas, Japan Air Lines, Nippon Air, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific as well as low cost carriers Jetstar and Air Asia.
Chat to our team of ski speacialists to decide which airline is best for you; if you have time, you may like to add a stopover into your ski holiday.
Things to do in Niseko in Winter
Got some downtime but haven’t had enough snow yet? Try Tubing, Snowshoeing or Snowmobiling! If you need a bit of a stretch or some downtime, try Powder Yoga & Pilates at the Aya in this beautiful space. Or relax at one of the local day spas for massage and treatments – try Aya Spa, or Ryko at the Skye. Alternatively, take the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese Onsen. These natural hot springs are filled with water rich in mineral qualities, and work
Niseko Destination Tips
Niseko is known for having incredible powder, while its hard not to get caught up in the lively apres scene, we recommend keeping an eye on the forcast to plan your big nights. If the weather predicts a good snow dump overnight, head up to the peak as early as possible to get the best untouched lines. Also, don't be afraid of the Pizza box lifts, they take you to some of the best terrain in Niseko.
If you have time to venture further, there are day trips to Rusutsu and Kiroro that depart Niseko daily. This is a great way to get a taste of some of the other resorts in Hokkaido, without committing to moving hotels!