A winter wonderland that melts to reveal a glorious summer vacation hotspot for nature lovers. Niseko, exquisitely nestled on Japan’s splendid Hokkaido Island, is a spectacular destination during the warmer months.
The powder capital of the world, Niseko’s four main resorts attract skiers from across the globe to the island’s unique slopes. However, once the snow stops falling and the ice melts, the region’s magnificent mountainous landscape creates an action-packed, outdoorsy vacation. Add to this unforgettable dining, relaxation, and luxury stays. Niseko is home to luxury chalets rentals which are lavish rural retreats that offer magical views and contemporary designs in the best locations.
The low humidity and pleasant temperatures, even during the hottest summer months, makes for the perfect climate for a spot of golf. The good news for golfers is that Niseko boasts some impressive courses, not to mention the most scenic. As well as world-class golf, courses are suitable for all ages, with a variety of landscapes from hilly holes to courses through picturesque forests.
The Niseko Village Golf Course has won the title of Japan’s Best Golf Course. With sublime views of Mount Yotei, this 18-hole, par 73 course is suited to all levels of golfers.
The Niseko Tokyu Golf Course at Hanazono also has a world-class reputation and is an 18-hole, par 72 championship course. The terrain is varied and with iconic Mount Yotei views, this is one of Niseko’s most popular courses. It particularly appeals to experienced golfers looking for an enjoyable challenge.
Internationally renowned, US-based Arnold Palmer Design Company are the experts behind the 18-hole, par 72 Niseko Golf Course surrounded by pine trees. Meanwhile, famed golfer Jack Nicklaus designed the 18-hole course at Hokkaido Classic Golf Club.
Another popular golfing pursuit is Park Golf with 18-hole courses providing plenty of family fun, with bigger balls and holes making for a far less strenuous game.
Shiribetsu River Activities
One of the cleanest rivers in the world, the 126-kilometer Shiribetsu River is one of the main natural attractions that draw visitors to Niseko all year round. It’s a popular spot for amazing fly-fishing experiences, including traditional Japanese-style tenkara angling, with rainbow trout, Japanese char, and red-spotted masu salmon swimming in the waters. There are plenty of fishing expeditions and family-friendly trips as well as fishing courses. It’s good to note that no fishing license is required on Hokkaido and catching many of the area’s wild freshwater fish is permitted from June onward.
Parts of the river are suitable for swimming, with beautiful surroundings and cool, mountain-spring waters, while paddle boarding is another great way to have fun and take in the pristine scenery of Japan’s great wild frontier. Canyoning is a fun activity too, jumping into the water and riding rapids with organized trips often take holidaymakers out to nearby Sakazuki River.
White-water rafting is exhilarating, with the Shiribetsu considered one of the best spots in Asia. In summer, the waters are less challenging too, ideal for those with less experience.
Kayaking and canoeing is an incredible way to see the area’s Alpine scenery too. Water-sports fans can also head to the clear blue waters of the Shakotan Peninsula that goes into the Sea of Japan and is part of the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park.
On land, Niseko is a breath of fresh mountain air and the perfect antidote for anyone who wants to escape the city and enjoy a non-beach holiday. One of the real plus points of Niseko is that there are so many trails to suit different fitness and ability levels.
Hokkaido Island is a walking and hiking paradise, with set trails and footpaths weaving through the mountain landscape, with maps too. Expect inspiring views and wildflowers whether on a short family ramble or a trek up Mount Yotei to reach mesmerizing views from the top. Guides are also available.
Shinsen Marsh has one of the most beautiful wetlands in the Niseko mountain range with clear ponds and colorful forests. A great pull is a promenade to reach the marsh, meaning it’s easily accessible too.
Niseko is home to thrilling downhill cycle courses, many of which can be accessed by the Hirafu gondola. The sheer choice gives riders access to these, whilst the area offers the perfect combination of mountain bike rides and road cycling. There are lots of wide, quiet roads and the cooling mountain air adds to the appeal.
As well as couples and families heading out on two wheels, with or without an organized trip, the challenging mountain tracks attract seasoned cyclists and professional athletes too. There is a buzz about cycling in Niseko with lots of activities within the local community aimed at riders.
Another wonderful way to see the Niseko countryside is with a horse ride, with expeditions catering to riders of all ages and abilities.
Parks and activity centers abound in Niseko with lots to do for visitors of all ages. Youngsters and the young-at-heart enjoy tree-top adventures. The zipline course at PURE in Niseko Village is the longest in Japan; a breathtaking adventure. There is also a tree-trekking challenge too.
Other fun activities include wakeboarding and tennis, with several splendid courts with mountain views open throughout the summer months. Nature walks really show the beauty of Niseko and the Niseko Adventure Center runs night treks to see Niseko from a different perspective, after dark.
Other interesting attractions include a visit to Milk Kobo dairy farm, gondola rides, hot air ballooning 30 meters into the air while tethered, and a helicopter experience. PURE has an adventure park and playground, whilst there is also an inflatable park at Hanafuwu, with tightrope walking at Hanazono.
The perfect way to relax after or during a day of activities is with an onsen bath, a must-do for anyone staying in Niseko. The area has many onsen hot springs which are wonderfully warming during the winter and summer, with thermally heated waters easing tired muscles. A Japanese bathing ritual, the onsen inspires a sense of wellbeing.
Featured Image courtesy of nacadventures.jp