Niseko Ski Resort is famous around the world for the light, dry and fluffy powder that falls each winter. It is now considered to be Japan’s only International Ski Resort with easy access to English speaking staff in almost every business and this has made it a very attractive ski holiday destination with International visitors.
The main Niseko Ski area is made up of 4 different ski resorts (Hanazono, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri) that are all connected together on Mt Annupuri and are part of a collective called Niseko United. Moiwa is another smaller ski resort adjacent to Annupuri and has a separate lift pass. With all these different resorts it can be hard to find the right lift ticket to suit your holiday, so the tips below should help with your decision.
There is a wide variety of different lift tickets you can buy for the Niseko area. Each of the individual resorts have their own separate lift tickets that only work at their own resort except for Grand Hirafu and Hanazono who have a combined ticket. Otherwise, you can also buy a Niseko United lift ticket which covers all of the 4 resorts in its collective. You then can choose from a wide variety of timed and day tickets. The main options include 5-hour passes (only available for individual resorts), 8-hour passes and daily passes from 1 day to all the way up to 18 days with Niseko United. You can also purchase 12 point tickets for Niseko United which work by taking points off your pass depending on what lifts you take or 50-hour passes that allow you to ski for 50 hours at any time in the season. Other passes are available so check out the resort websites for more information.
Most accommodation in the Niseko area is close to the base of one of the ski resorts so this could have an impact on which resort you want to ski at the most. But even if you do base yourself at one resort, it is fairly easy to get to another resort as the four Niseko United resorts are linked together. There is a free shuttle bus that runs between all of the mountains including a separate shuttle to Moiwa Resort from Hirafu each day. If you stay in Moiwa, though, it is a little harder to access the other resorts but is still close enough to Annupuri that you could stay here with a little extra planning. For more information on choosing accommodation in Niseko see my previous article.
The lift ticket you buy might be affected by what level you are at. If you are only a beginner skier then you could get by easily just buying a lift ticket to the resort that is closest to you or where you will be having lessons if you have booked any. If you are only going to be skiing for the duration of the lesson, you may find a 5-hour ticket is sufficient enough for your needs. A 12 point ticket is also a good option for beginners. For anyone that is intermediate level or above and skiing for more than half a day, I would recommend getting a Niseko United All Mountain lift ticket for at least some of your stay as it will give you many more options of where to ski as each individual resort on its own does not offer that much terrain.
With most of the resorts offering night skiing you could basically ski for 12 hours a day if you wanted to from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm but most people won’t be doing that so it is worth thinking about how much time you will be on the slopes. Most people skiing for multiple days tend to buy multiday Niseko United lift tickets but if you are only going to ski during the day then you are actually spending more money than you need to, as when you do the maths, unless you ski more than 11 days the individual 8 hour pass works out to be cheaper than paying for a multiday.
Also, with the multiday tickets, you can’t skip a day until you buy over 8 days so that means if you get injured or want a rest day then you are going to waste a whole day’s ticket. A good option for people staying more than a week who want a bit more flexibility are the 50-hour passes as you can ski for however long you want each day without any penalty if you go home after a few runs.
Niseko has another couple of great resorts in the surrounding area that are easily accessed by daily buses that are designed for day trips for guests staying in Niseko. Both Rusutsu and Kiroro resorts have package deals that include the return shuttle fare as well as the lift ticket and it costs about the same amount as a day pass to Niseko United. I would recommend checking out these resorts as they both have something different to offer. Rusutsu is spread over three mountains and has an amusement park that you ski next to and Kiroro has some great terrain with fewer crowds. If you do plan on visiting these resorts you don’t want to go on a day you have already paid for at Niseko so this is something to take into account when choosing your ticket.
No matter what ticket you choose, know that you will have a great time skiing Japan’s amazing powder in one of Hokkaido’s best resorts. For further information visit this website.