Niseko Shutter Stock Ski Snowboard 1

Going beyond Niseko's groomed runs

It's a heated debate: What's the best way to enjoy Niseko's world famous powder?

As us locals are well aware... Niseko is about so much more than sticking to the main ski runs (not that there is anything wrong with that, and boy are there so many). Today we'll share a few different ways to enjoy Hokkaido's famous powder - some you may not have heard of!

Tree runs and off-piste skiing

Niseko Shutter Stock Ski Snowboard 1

With arguably the most consistent snowfall in the world Hokkaido has built a strong reputation for backcountry, off-piste skiing and tree runs.

On any given day, you'll see skiers and snowboarders head into the trees and away from main runs to experience their share of Japow, and among them you may also spot some brightly-coloured instructors, happily sharing their favourite spots with locals and guests alike.

How to get into backcountry and off-piste Skiing in Niseko?

The deep powder and quiet runs are waiting to be enjoyed but shouldn't be taken for granted. If you are planning to head off the main runs our outside the gates we recommend booking a session with one of Niseko's experienced guiding companies. Skiing off-piste can be dangerous - and even going in the trees or on the sides of runs can get you into trouble in deep powder if you fall down.

Uh.. so what is CAT skiing?

NAC CAT Skiing 2

Another favourite for locals and guests alike - one you might not have heard of - is CAT skiing. Leave "Mittens" at home because we're not talking about your pet!

In the hills around Niseko you might see a solitary CAT (a CAT or snowcat is modified snow groomer with cabin for carrying people) making its way up the side of a mountain in the distance. Similar in concept to heli-skiing, cat-skiing (or boarding) gives you affordable access to some of Hokkaido's best untract ski areas (many of which once had lifts - but are now cat ski only).

CAT skiing (or snowboarding) is therefore one of the best ways to experience the hidden runs that most will never get to see away from lift lines and crowds.

How to enjoy CAT skiing in Niseko?

Companies like Weiss Powder Cats and Black Diamond offer CAT tours daily near Niseko while ski areas like Iwanai Resort (just 30 minutes away) are now CAT ski only. Book direct with NISADE and let us book the trip for you.

Skidoo and snowmobile tours

White Isle Snowmobile 1

Last on our list of Powder Thrillers is something you won’t see on the mountain while you are shredding, but something that any local will tell you to experience at least once—snowmobiling!

Going out with White Isle Snowmobiling or Hanazono Snowmobiles will give you the chance to charge your way through a field of powder with an experienced guide—one of the ultimate thrills, for those who ski and board and for those who don’t.

Where can I go snowmobiling in Hokkaido?

There are several beautiful trails running through both Niseko and Rusutsu used by tour companies which are perfect for snowmobiling. For thrill-seekers and families alike, this is a must do activity! Book a stay at a property like Intuition Niseko and let our Guest Services team book this for you.

NISS Snowshoe

Snowshoeing - Relaxed activity in Niseko

For those who want to soak in the tranquility of snow and forest why not try a snowshoe tour? Enjoy the peace and stillness of the mountains in Hokkaido and explore a part of Japan that you just can’t see from a car or hotel room. Many tours also finish with a trip to a wild onsen!

Where to snowshoe in Niseko?

Snowshoe tours are a great way to experience the awe of winter of Niseko for singles, couples, families, and friends. The NISADE team has a number of partners who can run tours so book your stay and let our friendly Guest Services team sort our a guided tour for your group.

Snow rafting - yes it is a thing!

NISS Snowrafting

If walking isn’t your game, then head on down to Hanazono and jump in one of NISS’ snowrafts and be towed through the trails around Hanazono in comfort and style, another amazing way to experience the winter we love here in Niseko.

From the simple pleasures to the extremes, there is so much to do and see in Niseko that even locals don’t take advantage of, but that won’t ever stop them from trying! So, if you will be visiting us this winter, remember that there is something for everyone, on and off the mountain. We hope to see as much enjoyment as possible this winter, and if you would like a recommendation, please do not hesitate to contact our Gust Services Team, who will be more than happy to share their favourite winter activities with you. See you soon!

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Our team are your experts on luxury snow holidays in Niseko, Furano and Rusutsu. Send us an email at [email protected] to enquire or book directly online via our website.


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