Latest


Yotei - A mountain for every season

2019

If you've ever been to Niseko with a little luck you will have had the pleasure of Mt Yotei's presence beaming down on the Hirafu Village and surrounds.

Mt Yotei's summit stands at 1,590m which isn't huge in mountaineering terms but it is the highest peak in the area and one that just begs to conquered.

Mount Yotei is an active strato volcano which most recently erupted back in 1050BC and lucky for us hasn't done a lot since!

yotei_top.jpg

Mt Yotei obscured by brightly lit cloud
The view form Hirafu that begs you to explore

Both winter and summer are a great time to take on the Mt Yotei challenge with summer being the most accessible time. Although summer doesn't have the adrenaline fueled descent to look forward to that winter offers it certainly has its own more tranquil rewards.

yotei_late_spring.jpg

Mt Yotei in spring with green paddock foreground
Mt Yotei looking great from all angles and all seasons.

In summer the hike takes between 3 to 5 hours to reach the summit and although much less demanding then in winter it can still be a challenge and it pays to do it on a fine day as the trails are narrow and rocky in parts and become very slippery when wet. The descent is a bit quicker but is quite steep so hiking poles are strongly recommended.  The route runs through pine and silver birch forest and alpine plants and flowers color the lanscape above the treeline. On your way up you may be greeted by a squirrel or 2, foxes are often spotted and don't forget to keep an ear out for wood peckers which you may catch a glimpse of in the trees.

mt_yotei_flowers.jpg

Purple wild flowers on lush greenery
Alpine wild flowers decorate the trail to the summit. P- Colin Sheldon

mt_yotei_crater.jpg

The crater of Mt Yotei during summer
The incredible contrast between winter and summer in the Mt Yotei crater

During the winter if you or any of your group haven't been up Yotei before it is strongly recommended that you enlist the services of a guide, which Holiday Niseko can help you to arrange. If you are confident in the montains and have the necessary avalanche and touring gear the mountain is of course yours for the taking. In winter snow shoes or touring skis are essential as is the aforementioned avalanche equipment. The hike up with snow shoes takes most about 4 - 6 hours and of course the descent is just a few minutes depedning on how often you stop to take pictures.

yotei_top_winter.jpg

Skiers and snowboarders prepare at the Yotei crater
An experience like this is worth every step to get there.

The ride down can be a bit of a roller coaster with the top 3rd sometimes being wind effected and the bottom half below tree line almost always offering some aweseome turns. Once you reach the summit it will be hard not to drop into the crater which can offer some epic turns and is an experience in it self. Check this cool clip made by one of our 2017 - 2019 drivers Toby Coulter, what a day!

 

 


Festival Time

2019

Summer is a time for celebration here in Hokkaido and every year the calendar is dotted with great events. Closest to home and coming right up we have the Kutchan Jaga Festival  (2019-08-03) a celebration of summer and of course Kutchan's most prized and all important crop, the potato. This features scores of delicious food carts, local produce, spectaucular floats and processions and a fire works display.

img_0142.jpg

Hirafu festival drummers
Lively atmospheres, bright colours and great food !

img_0274.jpg

Brightly coloured candied bananas
Can't keep the kids away from these!

Soon following the Jaga Matsuri is the Hirafu festival  (2019-08-24) which features live bands, seated food tents and a very spectacular fireworks display to finish.

Hirafu Festival

people seated outdoors at a festival
Great food, seating, music and fireworks

One of the last festivals of the year is the inaugural Niseko Autumn Food Festival, which has cemented its place as one of the final and most delicious festivals of the year. This festival even has a free shuttle running from Odori Park in Sapporo.

niseko_autumn_festival_19.jpg

Niseko Autumn Festival 2019 flier
Don't miss this, great food, great beer, great jazz and much more

Festivals in Hokkaido are by no means limited to those above also well worth checking out is the seafood festival in Bikuni, The Iwanai Fireworks Festival (04 Aug - 05 Aug), The Sapporo Beer Festival (Jul 19, 2019 – Aug 16, 2019) and the Sapporo Autumn Festival (Sept 7 - Sept 30).

Bikuni seafood festival

Delicious seafood dishes await
The mouthwatering kaisen don or sefood bowl, found at the Bikuni / Shakotan Seafood Festival

 

 


Powder Hound Guide - Part 2

2019

The Niseko United boasts some of the greatest tree skiing in the world thanks to ample supplies of powder and plenty of nicely spaced Silver Birch forest. It also has some incredible stuff above the tree line too and in this installment we will cover a little of both with a quick look at what the Annupuri Summit or The Peak has to offer. 

annupurri_bluebird_copy.jpg

Mt Annupuri viewed from the east
On days like these you want to be getting first lift! The highest point is your destination, the summit or peak of Niseko Annupuri.

When we refer to The Peak this is the highest point of Mount Annupuri (1308m) or The Niseko United Area, usually accessed via a slightly sketchy feeling single chair know by many as "the meat hook" or King Lift #4 . You can access this from either Hirafu via the The King Hooded Lift # 3 or The Hanazono Quad Lift#3. This will swing you up to the easiest starting point if you are looking to hike the peak. 

Peak access is governed by Niseko Local rules, get familiar with these before you go - https://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/niseko/niseko-rules/ . Gate 3 gives you access to the Peak Hike and this being open is weather dependent. If the weather is bad and the gate happens to be open, if you are not familiar with the area you will probably best to leave it for another day as it is easy to get lost if you can't see where you are going.

The hike to the peak takes 15 to 30 minutes depending on your fitness level and remember if you drop in skiiers left you will have to hike out too. Neither one is too strenuous though and well worth the effort. The views are incredible and the terrrain that the hike opens up is awesome starting with nicely pitched open powder fields and leading into beautifully gladed tree runs.

mountyotei_from_annupuri.jpg

View of Volcanic Mt Yotei from Mt Annupurri
Mt Yotei looks best from the peak!

If you want to get the best out of your peak experience get to the single chair as soon as you can in the morning as the peaks goodness is no secret. Although the secret may be out the terrian and snow is almost always incredible and it's still always worth a shot when the rest of the mountain hasn't seen snow for a few days.

iwanai_from_hirafu_peak.jpg

View of the Shiribeshi coast from Mt Annupuri
Views like these are always worth the walk.

Remember the peak is out of bounds and it is the back country and although easily accessible the usual precautions must be taken, which means riding with friends, taking avalanche equipment that you know how to use and preferably going with a guide or someone who has been before.

It is also important to check the weather and avalanche reports before you go -

Avalanche Reports - http://niseko.nadare.info/

Weather - https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/niseko_annupuri

Enjoy the ride!


Destination Niseko

2019

It has never been easier to access Niseko from all over the world with greater numbers of direct flights coming to Chitose every year.  We thought we’d take a look at what’s on offer at Flight Center from some of the more popular departure points accross the world.

All flights departing Friday Jan 10th, returning Jan 19th.  

As you may know Holiday Niseko don't book flights but we we can take care of your transfers once you've landed in Chitose all the way to the door of your accommodation!

 

~ Flying from Australia? Check out these beaut deals.

Get here quick with ANA, this flight will have you on the ground in Chitose in just 12 hours and 50 minutes and it’s an overnight flight so all going well you’ll get some sleep. Listed at $2,176 this gem could see you enjoying lunch at Green Farm on the Saturday.

Get here cheaper with China Air, this flight takes a bit longer and you’ll be lunching in Taipei rather than Hirafu. But she’s cheap as chips, listed at just $1530 return and easily doable 17 hours travel time.

eva_air.jpg

A plane touching down in Chitose
Flying into one of the snowiest destination in the world

~ Flying From Hong Kong? Get here in time for dinner!

Book today with Cathay Pacific and you’ll be getting in a solid weeks skiing and with a 09:10 departure time you’ll be in time for dinner at Rin at 20:00 listed at just $8,058.61 HKD

 

~ Flying From Honolulu ? Deep powder awaits..

Non stop on the way home with ANA and Hawaiian Air. Listed at $1,062 USD this is a 14 hour journey with a stopover in Osaka. You’ll arrive at Chitose around 10pm so best to grab a little shut eye and an Onsen in one of the convenient and well priced airport hotels before coming up to Hirafu on Saturday morning.

 

~ Flying from Singapore? The early bird gets the best snow and the best deals!

Leaving SIN at a brisk 05:55am you’ll be grabbing a sushi snack at Chitose by 15:00 before jumping on the 16:40 resort liner bus to Niseko. Listed at around $946 SGD

Holiday Niseko still have some great accommodation options open at the dates above too so if are keen to see what’s available get in touch today!

(Res@holidayniseko.com)

img_3134.jpg

View of Hirafu from St Moritz bridge
Winter wonder land is just a click away

 


Powder Hound Guide - Part 1

2019

There's nothing much more exciting than visiting a ski resort for the first time and just imagine visiting a resort in Hokkaido Japan for the first time, wow!

You will have no doubt seen the photos, watched the videos and even heard the vocab with phrases and hashtags like Japow, Japanuary and many more that will, with out a doubt, have you frothin' ! After a seemingly endless summer (or winter), you are here in Niseko, standing at the base of the Hirafu Gondola, fresh after a comfortable sleep in your Holiday Niseko arranged accommodation and staring up at snow caked trees and runs. The big question you have is where to go?

Niseko United is a big ski area with 3 gondolas, 30 lifts and thousands of acres of skiable terrain plus further incredible front, side, slack and back country opportunites. The area is made up of 4 connected resorts Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri and each one of these have there own secret pow stashes. We're not going to tell you them all but we'll shed some light on some of the gems, starting with Hirafu. Hirafu can be seen as the center of the Niseko area and leads the way in terms of accommodation, shopping, restaurants and bars and if this wasn't enough it is also one of the funnest places to ride with a great mix of terrain and of course plenty of awesome tree skiing.

trailmap2018-2019_en.jpg

The Niseko United Trail map
The Niseko United Trail map

Need pow fast? Take the Ace Quad / Center 4 quad straight up, strap in, head skiiers right and you're on your way to Hone or Super Ridge. Drop in early for some great steep tree runs or stay on the traverse to the ridge and choose your line down from there. These are some of the best inbounds steeps you'll find on Hirafu. Alternatively you can keep traversing accross the bowl to where the trees begin again and here's where you can usually find some awesome pow stashes even late in the day. Always stay skiiers left of the main ridge and keep in mind there is a creek at the bottom, especially early season! 

Don't miss Miharashi! If you've started from the Hirafu Gondola when you get to the top walk down the stairs and turmn right, walk up the hill 50m and pick your line down. From the top of the ridge heading skiiers left will take you into some great trees and you will come out about midway down the Family Course, heading right into the open slope will take you to the areas name sake run, Miharashi. This is a great wide open run and pretty epic if you are the first down but if you've partied the night before and missed the first gondola stick to the treed side for some of that hangover curing cherry cherry pow pow you came for, yeooow!

 

 


Gloved up in Niseko

2019

Thinking of a new set of gloves for this winter? Great idea! Gloves are an essential item in your Niseko ski kit and your choice in gloves can make or break a days skiing here. The options are as you would expect seemingly infinite but for Niseko, the number 1 factor you should take into consideration is unsurprisingly warmth, for you and of course the tiny hands of the little ones! Glove styles abound but the go to for Niseko especially for the kids is the classic Mitt. Mittens won't let you down and although you may lose a little dexterity once you've enjoyed the warmth mittens provide you'll never go back.

pow_shot_1.jpg

A snowboarder digging a deep powder turn
Mittens will keep you warm on even the deepest and coldest days!

Useful points to consider when buying gloves for Niseko - 

  • Warmth - Get the warmest gloves you can find, Niseko resort temps usaully hover around -10 from December through to mid February and can get cosiderably colder than this especially at night. There are many insulating materiials but a good start is to go for a glove with a high count of Prima Loft fills.
  • Versatilty - Gloves and mittens often come with removable liners so that you can regulate temperatures. These sound like a great idea but you will be sacrificing a little convenience as gloves without liners are always easier to put on and it's one more thing to keep track / in your pocket.
  • Dexterity - Gloves over mitts for this race but check to see how flexible gloves are and think about how easy it will be to grip your poles, do up your bindings or grip the deliciously warming little can of coffee from the vending machine! 
  • Water Prooofing - Another key to warmth is staying dry so choose your materials carefully. Good old Goretex is a waterproofing guarantee hard to go past and technology now enables premium shell materials such as leather to be close to 100% waterproof. Applications of bees wax derived products such as Snowseal will also lengthen the life of leather gloves and make them more waterproof too.
  • Cuff length - The longer the cuff the more warmth a glove will provide but make sure that your jacket will go over your gloves or vice versa and if you have thumb gussets in your jacket that your jacket cuffs will still go over your gloves if you are using these. The shorter the cuff length the more likely you will be to expose skin to the elements but there is a trade of for how easy it is to get your gloves on and off.
  • Spring time - Planning to come to Niseko in March or April? Disrregard all of the above regarding the importance of warmth and come perpared with a lighter set of gloves. From mid March temperatures will be comparitvely mild and mittens and warm gloves will be too hot and may quite rapidly acquire a less than pleasent aromor! 
  • Price - Quality gloves will last at least a couple of winters and if you want a balance of warmth, waterproofness and style you should be looking to spend  $120 - $200 USD for a decent set of adult gloves or mitts. Gloves are an essential accesory and having a quality pair will most certainly improve your Niseko experience, especially for the those epic nighta's, yeooow!

masafumi.jpg

A skier in deep powder
Ski or Snowboard, mitts or gloves make sure you're toasty warm every turn.

 

 

 

 

 


Van included- get more out of your Niseko holiday.

2019

Are you planning a trip to Niseko and wondering how you will get around?

Although the Hirafu village is compact and relatively easy to negotiate on foot or with the aid of the free village shuttle Holiday Niseko has another solution for you - book a property that comes with a vehicle.

Properties with vehicles offer superb value when you take into consideration the cost of a rental vehicle and best of all a van allows you the freedom top explore more resorts, restaurants and must see attractions. They are also the answer to any supermarket worries and allow you to drop the kids off at ski school at your convenience. 

img_3136.jpg

A snow covered St Moritz bridge in Hirafu
Experience the extra freedom a vehicle brings

As if this wasn't enough, consider the fact that the greater Niseko United area is made up of 4 resorts ( Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri) all of which are no more than a 30 minute drive from Hirafu. A vehicle gives you the freedom to start your day at any one of these resorts giving powder hounds the best chance for first chair and for for the more adventurous there are 2 more fantastic resorts 1 - 1.5 hours drive from your accommodation -  Rusutsu and Kiroro.

pow_shot_1.jpg

A snowboarder digging a deep powder turn
First Tracks are all the more accessible with a vehicle

Feel like a day off the slopes? Try the Nikka Whisky Distillery in Yoichi ( don't forget your desiganted driver!) just 1 hour from Hirafu.

Getting hungry? A van gives you the freedom to dine in neighbouring towns such as Niseko and Kutchan. In Niseko you might like to try Niseko Brewing http://www.winedineniseko.com/niseko-restaurants/niseko-brewing and in Kutchan, the excellent Nihon Bashi.

nihon_bashi.jpg

Several plates of delicious colourful sushi
Access local restaurants with ease

All of the vehicles on offer are late model 4WD Hiace Regius vans that seat up to 9 passengers, are equipped with English navigation and of course snow tyres.

So what properties come with a van?

Himawari - A value concious option located in Kabayama, just 2 minutes drive from Hirafu Village.

Ikigai - One of our most popular properties loctaed in peaceful St Moritz and less than 5 minutes drive to the Hirafu Gondola.

Kabayama Townhouses - 4 x 4 bedroom townhouses all of which come with a van and are just a couple of minutes drive from the village.

Kabayama House - A beautiful 3 bedroom stand alone home tucked away in a peacful corner of Kabayama. Again just a couple of minutes drive from the resort.

Koho - Located in the lower Hirafu Village this classic alpine chalet comes 3 bedrooms and bathrooms and is tastefully furnished. 

Mountain Butterfly - Another 3 bedroom property that enjoys the peace and tranquility of the St Moritz area and fantastic Mt Yotei views.

Shiki & Koyuki - 4 x  modern 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom townhouses located away from the hustle and bustle in Izumikyou 2. The van will have you at the gondola in just minutes.

Ori - Where James Bond would choose to stay!  This luxury super modern 5 bedroom home sleeps up to 18 guests and is located in the Lower Hirafu Village.

Yoteiyama House - A spacious 4.5 bedroom home that comfortably sleeps up to 12 guests. The van will have you to the lifts in minutes.

If you'd like to know more about any of these properties or you have any questions please feel free to contact us anytime (res@holidayniseko.com).


March madness - late season in Niseko delivers

2019

Significant snowfalls this winter began early to mid December and with them came very cold temperatures that kept the snow in incredible condition until the second half of February when the storm cycles slowed and settled weather remained.

Many thought this would be the last of the powder but come mid March the tap was turned back on and ever since we've been enjoying some great snowfalls from week to week.

First up more ripping turns from Shimamaki Snow Cats with classic March blue skies and fresh powder to boot.

Now if that wasn't enough to wake the green eyed monster here are some more epic turns from Central Hokkaido, wow!

Finally the greater Niseko snow community celebrated the life of Sam Kerr with the annual send it for Sam fundraiser.

The event was once again a success and we will look forward to the next one in March 2020!


What month to come?

2019

Planning a trip to Niseko next winter and wondering when to come?

The short answer of course is anytime! If you are after a little more detail have a look below.

Hirafu is usually the first resort to open and shcedules it's opening day around the 24th of November, this is dependent on weather conditions and snow fall. 

The remaining resorts that make up the Niseko United, Annupuri, Niseko Village and Hanazono then usually open within a week of this.

So what can you expect when you arrive?

Late November / Early December

Positives

  • You can take your pick of accommodation and take advantage of some incredible deals!
  • There will be groomed runs open and this can be a good time to learn to ski
  • The likely hood of fresh snow is high and the slopes are uncrowded
  • The shuttle bus is running and all restaurants will be open.

Negatives

  • The number of lifts open is dependent on snow fall
  • Resort opening is dependent on snow fall
  • Off piste skiing is generally limited

hirafu_late_nov_2018.jpg

Hirafu ski resort
Autumn view of Hirafu Hanazono

Early to mid December

Positives

  • Fresh snow is highly likely
  • Early season excitement is running hot!
  • Less crowded in the village and on the slopes
  • Night skiing begins around the 10th of December
  • Excellent deals on accommodation with plenty of availablity
  • Again can be a great time to learn to ski and perfect technique on piste

Negatives

  • Off piste skiing still limited
  • Open terrain and lifts dependent on snowfall

daisy_ski_4.jpg

A skier carves the groomed
There are usually a number of groomed runs to choose from early to mid December

Mid December - December 20th

Positives

  • Fresh snow highly likely
  • Terrain begins to open up
  • Bars and restaurants are lively
  • There are still good deals on accommodation
  • The chances are good for some awesome uncrowded powder days

Negatives

  • Although there will be increasing off piste opportunities most of the back country gates wil not be open

will_night.jpg

A snowboarder riding at night
Will Jackways making the most of his night pass

December 20th to mid February

Positives

  • Snowfalls are consitent and often constant through December, January and most of February
  • From first timer to seasoned pro, during these months there is something for everyone
  • Alternative activities such as snow shoeing and snowmobiling will all be in operation.
  • Most backcountry gates will open around Christmas (an awesome present!)
  • Snow conditions are excellent and the village will be humming and vibrant

Negatives

  • Being the most popular months accommodation must be booked well in advance
  • The village and ski slopes will be busy, especially over the Christmas period
  • Airport transfers and ski lessons can sell out so are also best arranged in advance.

pow_shot_4.jpg

Deep powder skiing in Niseko
Enjoy powder like this!

Mid February to March

Positives

  • Snowfalls are still consistant during this tme and can be some of the best of the year
  • The snowpack is at its highest of the year and the tree skiing at its best
  • Slightly less people than earlier in the month
  • Bluebird powder days not uncommon!

Negatives

  • Toward the end of the month storms are less frequent

yotei_1.jpg

The View of Mount Yotei from Hirafu
An incredible view each and everytime

March

Positives

  • Less crowds
  • Weather is more settled
  • Restaurants are all open but less busy
  • The terrain park is soft and great for the kids
  • A great time to learn to ski and lots of fun for the kids
  • Alternative activities such as snowmobiling and snowshoeing still great fun
  • Sunny days with soft snow are much more common than earlierin the season
  • Accommodation deals are excellent with many customers enjoying 50 - 60% off usual rates!

Negatives

  • Storms and powder days less frequent

img_1048.jpg

Spring time skiing in Hirafu with blue skies
March is a fantastic time to learn to ski or snowboard

April to close

Positives

  • Sunny days are the norm
  • You will have the place to yoursleves
  • The snow is soft and slushy (best skiing in the morning)
  • Accommodation is plentiful and realtively inexpensive

Negatives

  • Hirafu resort will reduce operations fom 
  • 2019 Hanazono will close March 31st
  • 2109 Niseko Vilage will close April 7th
  • A number of restaurants in Hirafu Village will close
  • The Village Shuttle will only operate until April 7th

img_1050.jpg

The View of Mount Yotei from Hirafu
April visits for spring skiing and great views!


Shimamaki Snow Cats

2019

Shimamaki Snow Cats is said by many to be one of the best cat skiing operations in Hokkaido. Run by Black Diamond Tours they provide access to some incredible terrain and of course acres of bottomless powder.

Combine this with its unique oceanside location with incredible views of the surounding peaks and the Sea of Japan you have an experience not to be missed.

If this wasn't enough just imagine a 2 day tour with a Japanese Ryokan Style Hotel stay, onsens and an incredible dinner of freshly caught seafood and locally sourced ingredients.

Ready to go yet?

img-9755.jpg

A snowy vista in Shimamaki
Shimamaki snow cats are a must do for every powder hound!

There is a feeling of solitude and serenity quite like no other in the mountains here, without another soul in sight, except of course your highly experienced guides and most importantly a Snowcat full of your friends.

img-3089.jpg

A black snow cat in action
Taking you to where you want to be!

img_9735.jpg

Snow covered tress and vistas
The feeling of serenity and solitude is like no other

If you have a booking with us and are interested in booking Shimamaki Snow Cats please contact your Holiday Niseko agent today.

shimamaki.jpg

Snowy vista, with skiers in foreground
Wish you were here (?)

shimamaki.jpeg

A snowboarder dropping in
This could be you!

If you don't have accommodation booked, now's the time the snow in Febuary is incredible in Niseko and beyond, don't miss out this year!




back up ↑