Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan - February 27, 2016: Snowboarders Hike up the Backcountry Trail at Mt Annupuri, Part of the Niseko United Ski Resort
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan - February 27, 2016: Snowboarders Hike up the Backcountry Trail at Mt Annupuri, Part of the Niseko United Ski Resort SEASTOCK

Powder paradise a ski and snowboard favourite

Japan's powder paradise, Niseko, combines both east and west with lush ski-in, ski-out hotels, lodges and apartments, traditional bathing hot spring onsens and dining from house-made ramen to Michelin star.

The Hokkaido hot spot on Japan's north island has long been an Australian ski and snowboard favourite and with 17 metres of snow a season, there is no wonder why.



Head to Green Farm Cafe in Hirafu for organic "farm to fork" fare and house-made breakfast sausages before an AllPress coffee at Gloorious Coffee in Rhythm Snowsports.



Beginners take a lesson with Niseko International Snowsports School in Hanazono, intermediates head to the groomed runs of Annupuri, and strong intermediate to advanced skiers wanting to conquer the powder can join a GoSnow Niseko powder workshop. Expert skiers head straight to the Miharashi tree runs.

The adventurous looking for uncracked powder have a plethora of powder-perfect, all-day cat skiing options. This includes Niseko Weiss cat skiing on an abandoned ski field, and Niseko Photography and Guiding which provides a professional photographer on site to capture you skiing the powder like a rock star.



When you're looking for even more ski time, take a day trip to nearby Rusutsu ski resort for the amusement park and singing tree alone.

The off-piste tree skiing is a bonus. Heli skiers can take to the skies with Hokkaido Backcountry Club on the Shiribetsu Dake volcano.



The locals favour Boyoso, a ski-in restaurant with ramen, sushi, curry and buns on the slopes above the Holiday Pair chairlift. Expect an old wooden-style building serving up authentic local cuisine. Our pick? The katsu curry.



As good as the snow is in Niseko, and it is seriously good, there is even more to do on this snow than just ski and snowboard.

Fancy yourself a moto geek? Then jump on a "snow bike" and ride the powder with a gazillion horse power between your legs.

Niseko Snowbike Adventures are ideal for anyone who is adept at on-road or off-road motorbikes.

You'll create your own snow mark on a 450cc snow bike through uncracked powder mountains.



Two words. Milk Kobo. Two more words. Cream puffs. Made with milk fresh from the Takahashi family farm. Last two words. You're welcome.



Leave your modesty at the door and head to Yugokorotei public onsen at Annupuri to rest those weary ski legs with some soak time.

The indoor and outdoor onsen is gender segregated for privacy and features rock-lined, geo-thermal mineral waters straight from the source.

Those with tattoos are generally not welcome in onsens in Japan. If you do go, remember to wash yourself fully in the bathing areas provided before entering the onsen, as a sign of cleanliness and respect.



Where to start? Niseko is as known for its apres as it is for its powder skiing.

New this season is the Brick Bar for laidback cocktails or try Amaru for apres value, Bar Rumba for the famed Bruce Lee and Jet Lee cocktail concoctions (be prepared), Blo Blo bar at Blowhard Lodge for the quirky decor and the small fridge bar known as GYU for both a fridge door entry and a Japanese whiskey menu.



Niseko really comes into its own at dining time with plenty of options, from street dining to Michelin recommendations. Start at the top at Kamimura.

The 40-seat shrine to clean, modern design boasts a Michelin star thanks to chef Yuichi Kamimura, a Tetsuya in Sydney protege. Book ahead and reserve the chef's tasting menu for the best palate experience to blow your mind.

Foodies will also salivate over An Dining at Ki Niseko for an izakaya-style meal featuring local produce and whisky from the local Yoichi Distillery.

Try the Barn by Odin for flame-grilled wagyu sushi and Hokkaido mussels steamed in Niseko sake served up in a modern twist in an old farm barn setting.

For sushi you can't go past Sushi Wakatake - its Sapporo brand is Michelin Bib Gourmand recommended. For ramen hit up Asahikawa Ramen Tozanken on Hirafu's main street and try Jam bar for izakaya small plate meals.

Anthony Bourdain featured the duck soba noodles of Rakuichi restaurant on his television show, No Reservations, so expect to book ahead. This restaurant seats a mere 12 people and is open for lunch and dinner.

It's also worth the taxi ride to the nearby town of Kutchan if you are seeking out more authentic flavours, unmarred by western influence within the town's restaurant and bar district.

A retired sumo wrestler opened Ryogoku restaurant so there is no surprise the menu features the heart-warming delight known as Chankonabe (the sumo's stew pot).

If you really crave western fare you won't get more western than the loaded fries, burgers, mac and cheese and fried chicken on the menu at Bigfoot Lodge. Don't stress, you'll more than burn it off powder skiing the next day.



Lay your head down at the swanky ski-in ski-out Greenleaf Hotel in Niseko Village away from the Hirafu masses or join fellow powder hounds at Black Diamond Lodge for value accommodation.

Try Hooting Owl Lodge for Aussie hospitality, AYA Niseko for luxe modern design, Zaborin Ryokan for traditional Japanese luxury in stand-alone villas in a snow forest, Kimamaya for a micro boutique hotel experience or The Vale for multi-bedroom condos.

M'boro woman steals charity tins, wallet in crime spree

M'boro woman steals charity tins, wallet in crime spree

Blair made headlines last year after she snatched a man’s wallet

Petition calls for new heated pool for M'boro patients

Petition calls for new heated pool for M'boro patients

So far, more than 270 people have signed.

Big problem with new pension pay rise

Big problem with new pension pay rise

Pensioners will receive an extra $13.20 a fortnight from this month

Local Partners