Niseko Freeride Tour – Week 1
7 nights | 6 days riding
January 17, 2017 to January 24, 2017
$2250 PER PERSON
This is a powder hunter tour where you’ll get to chase the big winter storms in Hokkaido. We keep the itinerary flexible so your guide can hunt down the best conditions all day, every day. This tour is based in Niseko where we have access to many resorts in the region such as Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Moiwa, Sapporo Kokusai, Teine, Otaru Tenguyama and Asarigawa Onsen. Your guide will assess the conditions and make the call on the day where is the best place to ride. Our unique location ensures that cold air coming from Siberia crosses the Sea of Japan, picks up moisture and develops into storms that drop epic amounts of cold dry snow on the Niseko range and surrounding areas. On this tour we stay in luxury, modern twin share accommodation in Niseko. This will be our base for 7 nights and your guide will transport you daily to our chosen location. Your guide will decide on riding spots each day based on weather and snowfall, as each mountain in the area can have vastly different snowfall and weather conditions, despite being in close proximity to each other. This flexibility ensures that we will find you the best snow and conditions all day, every day!
As this is a powder hunter tour we keep the itinerary flexible so we can ride at the best resort on the day. Here is a sample itinerary:
Day 1 Arrival Day
You’ll be met at Sapporo Chitose Airport and transferred by bus to your hotel in Niseko. After checking into your hotel, you’ll have the afternoon free to explore the surrounding area. That night we’ll host you in the Always Niseko bar where you’ll meet our guides who will run you through the tour, weather, equipment and answer any questions you have.
Day 2 – Niseko
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll aim to be on the mountain by 8:30am. We’ll load up the vans and make the short drive to either the Annupuri resort base or the Hanazono resort base so we can get first tracks. Your guides will show you around the Niseko United resort area which includes Hanazono, Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri. We’ll spend a full day on mountain, and hunt out some powder stashes. After riding we’ll stop off at one of the local onsen (natural hot springs) so you can rest the legs. Celebrate your awesome first day with apres at the hotel bar and then a visit to one of the great local restaurants.
Day 3 – Rusutsu
Breakfast at the hotel. We’ll load the vans and then make the 40 minute drive to Rusutsu. While some of the more popular resorts in the region might become tracked out by lunch time, great lines can still be found here even a day or two after snow, making it perfect for days without fresh snowfall. Interestingly, even though it’s only a 40 minute drive from Niseko, the weather patterns can be completely different – it can be snowing heavily in Rusutsu but clear skies in Niseko (or vice-versa) so we’ll keep a sharp eye on the weather systems so we can find the best conditions on each day. We will spend the day guiding you through the trees and gullies of Rusustu. So many natural hits here and so few people which makes it one of our favourites. In the afternoon we’ll check out one of the secret local onsen and then head back to our hotel for après followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 4 – Sapporo Kokusai / Teine
After breakfast we’ll jump in the van and drive towards the Sea of Japan for a visit to either Sapporo Kokusai or Teine. These resorts are located on the coast of Hokkaido and get the some of the most consistent snowfall on the island. We’ll be riding here mid-week, which means there will be lots of deep un tracked powder on offer, both on and off-piste. Follow your guides into the trees to find some of the steepest tree runs in Hokkaido. After riding, we’ll head back to the hotel for après and dinner.
Day 5 – Kiroro
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we’ll load the vans and head northeast to ride at a resort which will likely be the highlight of the tour – Kiroro. Pack your snorkel as this powder gem scores some of the highest snowfall in Hokkaido. In Kiroro we’ll take advantage of the new gate system and epic terrain it accesses. We will have access to steep untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort. After a long day in the trees, we’ll stop off at a local onsen and then head back to the hotel for après and dinner.
Day 6 – Otaru Tenguyama
After breakfast we’ll load the van and drive towards the Sea of Japan to the local port town of Otaru. Here we will ride at Otaru Tenguyama which is just a short 10 minute drive from the city centre. The resort has a cable car, which gives us access to this great little local secret! On a clear day this resort has amazing views down to Otaru city and out to the Sea of Japan, but don’t bank on too many clear days because this place gets regular snow all season. In the afternoon we’ll head into the town centre so you can view the historic Otaru Canal which is now lined with cafes and shops in converted old warehouses. For anyone wanting to sample the freshest seafood in Japan, we’ll make a stop at one of the famous sushi restaurants. If we have time on the way home we’ll stop at an onsen and then head back to Always Niseko for dinner and drinks.
Day 7 – Moiwa
After breakfast we’ll load the vans and set out for our final day riding. We’ll stay close to home and ride Moiwa. This smaller resort is part of the Niseko range but not connected to the Niseko United area by lifts. Moiwa is serviced by just 3 lifts but the has a reputation for the powder hungry. We will spend the day riding the epic trees and powder bowls before checking out one of the amazing onsens close by. The hot springs out this way are by far some of our favourites in Japan! After riding we’ll stop off at one of the local outdoor onsen so you can rest the legs. For our final night we’ll head into the local town of Kutchan for dinner at one of the best Izakaya’s around. Followed by some drinks and karaoke at one of the great local bars.
Day 8 Departure Day
All good things must come to come to an end, and after an epic week riding deep, Japanese powder we will transfer you back to the airport and say goodbye.
Your tour includes:
- 7 nights twin share accommodation with ensuite, Always Niseko
- Buffet breakfast daily
- Return airport transfers, New Chitose Airport to Hirafu Welcome Centre
- Return transfers from Hirafu Welcome Centre to Always Niseko (arrival & departure day)
- 6 days of private transfers to / from selected resort
- 6 days of guiding
- Access to our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards
- Welcome pack with resort info
Niseko is located on the western side of Hokkaido, on Japan’s north island. It’s proximity to the ocean means that cold wind blows down from Siberia over the warm currents in the Sea of Japan, forming storms that hit Hokkaido and drop huge amounts of cold blower powder snow. These storms can hang around for days or weeks on end, hence how Niseko earns its powder factory reputation. The surrounding mountains also score huge amounts of snow and are usually much quieter on a powder day, meaning more opportunities for untracked turns. Niseko’s main village, Hirafu, is packed full of great restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. It really is a world class ski resort! Throughout the tour we will ride many of the resorts in the Niseko region, and your guide will be with you every day to show you around some of their favourite spots both on the hill and in the village.
Small Group Sizes
We keep our group size to a maximum of 6 people for a more personal experience between our guests and guides. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time organising people and more time on snow! Our transport includes vans driven by your guide for the entirety of the tour.
We stay in twin share accommodation throughout the tour at the brand new Always Niseko development just 700m from the closest chairlift. Our comfortable twin share rooms are equipped with 2 single beds and can offer glimpses of Mt Yotei that will have you feeling zen in no time. Each room has a private bathroom with shower and bath tub, TV, storage and free high speed WiFi. This location has some great bars and restaurants around and is a short 5 minute walk to the heart of Grand Hirafu. The ski lifts in Grand Hirafu are within walking distance but your guide will collect you each morning and drive to the chosen ski area for the day. It can often be quite busy in the morning at Grand Hirafu so we will most likely start the mornings at a different resort to avoid the crowds and maximise our time in the powder.
Snow & Conditions
Hokkaido scores it’s biggest storms during the months of January and February. Expect cold temperatures and a lot of snow. Temperatures in the village usually range from -5 to -15 degrees celsius. Up on the mountain it can get down to around -20 degrees celsius, so make your you pack those thermals and a good balaclava! These low temperatures earn Hokkaido’s world famous reputation for consistent and dry snow. Most days throughout winter you can expect to be riding powder from the top of your boots to your waist. Even if we don’t get fresh snow overnight, the cold temperatures usually ensure we will be able to ride light dry snow days after storms.
Each morning your guide will explain the weather and snow conditions for the day and advise the group where we’ll be riding. We’ll load up the van’s and drive to our chosen resort each day. Once at the resort we will spend the day exploring the hill and showing you our favourite powder stashes! Your guide is there to get you the most out of your time on snow, we will assist in showing you around the resort as well as finding any type of terrain you desire to ride. Spend the day cruising the groomers, get stuck into some famous Japan tree runs, find some pillows to hit or session a drop into a deep powder landing – whatever you want to ride we can find it for you!
After your legs have had enough powder we will usually find a traditional Japanese onsen to relax and sooth the muscles. These unique natural hot springs use geothermal water from the ground, which contain minerals that are said to be great for sore muscles and the skin. In the evenings we will set out to explore the local area and get some delicious local food.
The great thing about this tour is each day will be unique and exciting. Our flexible itinerary means your tour with us will feel less like a concrete tour schedule and more like an adventure!
Throughout the tour we will spend 6 days riding the resorts around the area. These range from big resorts with world-class infrastructure to smaller local resorts where we will have the slopes to ourselves. Some of the resorts we have to choose from are:
Niseko United is made up of 4 interconnected resorts, Hanazono, Hirafu, Niseko Village & Annupuri. It’s located on the western side of Hokkaido, on Japan’s north island. It’s proximity to the ocean means that cold wind blows down from Siberia over the warm currents in the Sea of Japan, forming storms that hit Hokkaido and drop huge amounts of cold blower powder snow. These storms can hang around for days or weeks on end, hence how Niseko earns its powder factory reputation. The surrounding mountains also score huge amounts of snow and are usually much quieter on a powder day, meaning more opportunities for untracked turns.
Kiroro Snow World A large resort with great lift infrastructure and facilities. Kiroro usually gets around the same amount of snow as the world famous Niseko, sometimes more! Kiroro also has some of the best side country terrain in Japan, with gates gaining access to beautiful untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort.
Moiwa The terrain at Moiwa may be short with only 470 metres of vertical, but it’s very sweet because it’s generally quiet. The resort is serviced by three chair lifts, which provide access to six runs but the highlight here is the many off-piste lines through the trees. Moiwa has some fun terrain with gate access to beautiful untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort.
Rusutsu Resort Rusutsu resort is already on the radar for many powder enthusiasts, but as it’s remained relatively quiet, you can be sure that on a powder day the trees will stay untouched for long enough to tire you out! Your guide will be with you all day to get you the best turns. A local favourite.
This resort is located on the coast of Hokkaido and gets some of the most consistent snowfall on the island. We’ll be riding here mid-week, which means there will be lots of deep un tracked powder on offer, both on and off-piste. Follow your guides into the trees to find some of the steepest tree runs in Hokkaido.
Teine is also located on the coast and scores huge amounts of snow throughout the season. The highland area has lots of powder stashes in amongst the trees and various gullies to explore. When this place is on, it’s always a favourite.
+ 17 January – 24 January, 2017
If you would like to extend your trip you can always arrive before the tour starts or stay on after the tour commences.
$2,250 AUD per person
Not your currency? Contact us for a quote in your local currency.
To secure your spot we require a $500 deposit with the balance paid 60 days prior to departure. Group numbers are strictly limited. The tour is subject to Mint Tours terms and conditions. Places on this tour are strictly limited, no new places will be released once sold out.