What is the closet international and domestic airport to the Niseko Resort Area?

The closest international airport to the Niseko Resort Area is New Chitose International Airport (CTS) also referred to as Sapporo airport. The airport is located in Chitose city which is 36km south east of Sapporo city and 120km east of the Niseko Resort Area.

Where is Niseko?

Niseko is in the northern island of Japan Hokkaido. It is approx 2 hours flight from Tokyo or Osaka the airport you have to fly into is Chitose (Sapporo) Airport.

How long and how do I get from the Airport in Sapporo?

There are buses which connect you from New Chitose airport in Sapporo to Niseko & Freeride Lodge. The bus is approx 3 hours from the airport to Niseko. Otherwise you can book your own train and it takes about the same time + taxi cost. For full details on getting to the lodge please view our Access page.

How do I get from the airport shuttle bus stop to Freeride Lodge?

We offer a free shuttle between 7:00-22:00 - A member of the Freeride Team will pick you up/drop you off on your arrival and departure from either Hinode Hills or the Hilton (our closest stops depending on which bus company) in Niseko Village.  Please inform us at least 5 days before your stop and arrival time so we can arrange the pick-up. Arrivals after 10pm are possible but will incur a small fee.

How far is the lodge from the closest ski lifts?

Freeride Lodge is about 8 minute walk to the closest lift. You can also get a Niseko United Shuttle (NUS) bus which has a stop virtually in front of the lodge.

How far is Freeride Lodge from Hirafu?

Freeride Lodge is located in Niseko Village about 5 kms from Hirafu. Just a 10 minutes ride on the local bus, free with an all mountain lift pass.

Does the lodge have a Bar?

We have a bar which operates for special events. These will be published on our guest notice board in the main lodge.

Can I bring my own drinks and food to the lodge?

Yes, but please refrain from bringing these into the bar area on event nights. Refrain from eating in the bedrooms, there is a guest dining room where you can do this. We have a fully equipped kitchen for guests, so you're more than welcome to bring and cook your own meals.


Where is the closest bus stop?

Bus stops are located 20 meters from the lodge's front door and operates from 08:00 till 20:30. Higashiyama Pension Village bus stop is the closest stop. Please refer to the link at https://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/niseko-access/

How do we get around once we are there?

There are local buses called the NUS bus and they are free throughout the Niseko united ski area if you purchase an all mountain pass. Otherwise they range from 200 yen to 500 yen. They operate from 8.00 till 22:00. The other option is to get taxis, or hire a car. If you hire a car you need an international drivers licence.


How do I get a taxi?

You can contact these local taxi companies yourself



or ask the staff in the hotel or bar or restaurant you are in and generally everyone is happy to help you

Can I have ski or snowboard lessons?

Yes, We recommend to have lessons in the Niseko Village area or Annupuri area as they are easy to access from the lodge. We do not advise to book ski lessons in Hanozono as it is more than a 30 minute bus trip from the lodge. You will find most operators offer private and group lessons.

Here is a list of the closest operators to the lodge.

Niseko Village Snow School  is 2 minute by bus from the lodge located at the Hilton Niseko Village. Offers private and group lesson

Niseko Annupuri Ski & Snowboarding School - NASS - located in Annupuri which is 10 minutes on the bus from the lodge and you can catch the local bus form the bus stop at the fornt of the lodge. Offers Private and group lesson.

Niseko Lab - Annipuri or Hirafu - offer lessons and guiding in English - great if you have a small group or if you want backcountry guiding and tours for more remote powder spots.

Are there restaurants in Niseko Village?

Niseko Village has a few restaurants in walking distance from the lodge. The Hilton, Green leaf and Hinode Hills are located in the Village with a variety of bars and restaurants open for lunch and dinners.

Prativo Restaurant is walking distance and offers a great buffet lunch and dinner options focusing on local produce.

Black Diamond also has a small restuarnt offering Japanese and western food with a pool table.

Mandriano Pizza offers amazing pizza they are famous all over Japan for their cheese and pizza offerings for lunch and dinner.

Milk Kobo is a short stroll, they are famous for their Hokkaido cheese tarts and ice cream which are a must try! Open until 5pm.

Snow Dog has a small izakaya restaurant (Upa Shiseta) which is a 3 minute walk from the lodge.

Sandwhich container offers a range of sandwhiches and burgers which is located just near Snow Dog.

A number of restaurants in Niseko town provide free transfers to and from the lodge this is a great way to experience some great local food and culture away from the main tourist hub of Hirafu.

Can we cook our own food at the lodge?

Yes you can we have a fully equipped kitchen available for guests, we have a large dinning and lounge area where you can chill out and socailise with other guest.

Do you have ensuite rooms?

No, the lodge has shared but private western bathrooms, which have a bath and shower and separate male and female toilets.

We have a private 4 bed room ski house which have its own bathroom and kitchen.

Are there onsens nearby?

The closest onsen is located at the Hilton 2 minutes on the Bus. There is also the Yumeguri bus which does the circuit of the onsens and operates until 21:00. For more info on the Onsen bus pass click here.

Money and ATM ?

Japan is a cash based society, so it pays to get money out at the airport as you will find that most small restaurant and bars only accept cash. There is a ATM at the Hilton Hotel and there are ATMs in Hirafu area, Niseko Town or Kutchan. There is also a currency exchange available in Hirafu area in Niseko.

Is Niseko Village connected by the lift system to the entire Niseko United ski Area?

Yes it is. The impressive lift system services all of the Niseko United Ski Area. We also have some of the quickest access to the steepest fall lines in Niseko Gate11!

Is there Night skiing?

Niseko is renowned world wide as having one of the largest night ski areas in the world. A truly amazing experience which gives real value for your money when you purchase a lift ticket as you can be skiing or riding for 12 hours a day.

Can we hire Skis and snowboards, or telemark?

There are a variety of hire places in the area. Hiring gear is easy and you can do this once you arrive. Most of the services offer a pick up form the lodge to get your gear. We use Winter First 

Can I get my luggage couriered from Tokyo or Osaka Airport to my hotel in Niseko?

Yes you can and it is a great idea if you are staying a few nights in the city. You can forward your ski gear with this company http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html at most airports or major hotels to the door of your next hotel. We accept luggage 2 days prior to your arrival.

I can’t get a direct flight to Sapporo Chitose (CTS), what other options are there?

Most people arrive in Japan via one of the two main international airports, Tokyo(HND), Narita(NRT) or Osaka(KIX). Then you will need to take a connecting flight to CTS Sapporo.

How do I get to the Niseko resort area from New Chitose Airport(CTS)?

The most convenient way is via bus transfer. The journey will take between 3 hours depending on road conditions. Please get the bus to either Hinode Hills Niseko Village or Hilton bus stop.

Other options are JR train or private transfers and get a taxi to the lodge.


Below are links to book your bus online:

Resort Liner

White Liner

Big Runs

After the bus booking, please let us know your estimated arrival time at Hinode Hills or the Hilton bus stop at least 5 days prior to your arrival date. Freeride lodge is appox 8 minutes walk from the Hinode Hills bus stop but we'd be happy to pick you up for free of charge before 10.30 PM

What options are available for late flight arrivals or early flight departures?

If your plane arrives late your choices are private transfer, car rental or to stay in Chitose (airport) city for the night. The last bus departs the airport at approx 9 pm.

If your plane departs before 11:30am it is possible to catch a train to the airport. The earliest train departs from Kutchan station at 6:39am and arrives at the airport around 9:50am. (You will have to take a taxi from the Niseko Village Area to Kutchan Station.)

Skybus has a private transfer option to the airport.

Staying a night in Sapporo city or Chitose (airport) city and taking the train to the airport in the morning is also an option. From downtown Sapporo city to Chitose airport the fastest and least expensive way to get there is by train.

Please refer to the http://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/spend/relax/spa/ for a cheap over night stay in the Airport

Can I ski at Niseko Moiwa on a Niseko United All Mountain Pass?

Despite Niseko Moiwa’s proximity to the Niseko United Resort a separate lift ticket is required to ski at Niseko Moiwa. But you can access Moiwa from the bowls at Annupuri and though a track form the piste at Annupuri through to Moiwa. Once there you can buy a day or points pass and just use it as you use the lifts.

Where can I ski on a Niseko United All Mountain Pass?

The Niseko United All Mountain Pass can be used at Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village (formerly Higashiyama) Niseko Grand Hirafu and Hanazono. For more information and lift ticket prices please visit the Niseko United website.

When to Visit Niseko Ski Resort?


The Good - No crowds, cheap accommodation and plenty of availability. Night skiing and the free village shuttle bus begin operating during this time. We offer an Intro to the Snow Camp during this period Niseko Beginers Base Camp a 3 night 4 day experience contact us for details.

The Not So Good – Limited off-piste skiing.

A wide selection of accommodation is available at rates lower than Peak Season rates. Places start to fill up for dates around Dec 15 onwards.

Weather & Snow Information

The backcountry gates will not yet be open and off-piste skiing will still be limited on the lower mountain. Large snowfalls can rapidly change the conditions. Night skiing is available from Dec 14th.

Temperatures average - 3°C.

Crowd Information

There are no crowds at this time.

Reservations for restaurants are typically not needed.

When is High season?

Late December to Early March

The Good – Excellent snow conditions. Lots of dry powder. Awesome night skiing. Nightlife has a good party atmosphere.

The Not So Good – Highest prices for accommodation. Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year can book out early. The coldest time of the year.

Highest prices for accommodation. Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year book out early.

When to book?

6 months to 1 year in advance. Peak periods book out so don’t expect much in the way of last minute deals.

What is the snow and temperatures like?

Mid December through early March is typically the snowiest season, with the best snow in late December, January and February. Niseko receives an average of 14 meters of snow per season with most of it coming during this time. There is excellent powder skiing during this time.

Temperatures range between - 2°C and - 11°C in the village and -15°C and -25°C at the peak

When are the busiest times?

The busiest times are during the two weeks around Christmas and New Year. The other busy time is during the Chinese New Year.

While the town is crowded during this time of year, and restaurant reservations are a good idea, the peak time of year can be a great time to visit just for the sheer energy of the town and great skiing conditions.

What is some Secret tips?

Here’s a nice little secret … there can be some incredible skiing in March. Sunnier days, fewer crowds and great deals on accommodation, lift passes and ski rentals make it an ideal time to visit Niseko.

Try the night skiing. Many people come to Niseko but fail to experience the thrill of night skiing. Visibility is surprisingly very good even on stormy nights. Dress up warmly though.

Hire a guide to show you the best of what Niseko has to offer. You can choose from in mountain tours to full back country tours get out and discover what this area has to offer

What other activities are available in the Niseko Resort Area if I don’t want to go skiing?

Niseko’s main attraction in winter is the snow. Most non-skiing activities revolve around snow including snowmobiling, snow shoeing, horse riding and dog sledding, cooking classes and cultural activities. For shopping you will have to travel outside the resort area to either Otaru city or Sapporo city. Just going and checking out the supermarket can be an interesting day out as well. Trains run frequently from Kutchan station and Niseko town station to Otaru and Sapporo cities.

Do restaurants and shops accept credit cards or travellers cheques?

Small bars and restaurants in the Niseko Ski resort do NOT accept credit cards or travellers cheques. Restaurants that do accept credit cards may charge an extra service fee. Ski rental and ski goods stores accept credit cards and lift tickets can be purchased by credit card.

What kind of restaurants are in Niseko?

With around 200 places to dine at in the Niseko area there is no shortage of options. From traditional Japanese to Western style and from fine dining to burger and chips to food vans, there is something to suit all tastes. 

Do I need to make reservations for restaurants in Hirafu, Niseko?

During the peak periods of Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year it is recommended to make reservations. Most restaurants have English speaking staff. Outside of these times you generally only need to make a reservation if you have a large group or want to dine at a popular restaurant.

Do I need to tip in the Niseko Ski Resort?

No, tipping is not customary in Japan and you should not leave a tip at your restaurant table as the wait staff will probably think you forgot your change and will chase after you to return it.

Can I use my mobile phone in Niseko?

Most 4G phones will work however it is recommended that you check with your service provider before coming to Japan to see if your cell phone will work in Niseko.

Can I use a two way radio while skiing?

Australian and New Zealand UHF-CB/PRS radios are strictly prohibited in Japan as they use the same frequency as Japanese television and radio broadcasts. Possession or use of such radios is illegal and may lead to imprisonment or heavy fines.

Is it easy to get around Niseko speaking English only?

Generally it is very easy to get around speaking English only. Most signs and restaurant menus are in English. Most Japanese have studied English at school but not many can speak it well. Simple written English is generally understood. There will be situations where English is not understood at all. A simple phrase book and notebook and pen are quite useful to bring.

What's the average winter temperature around the village?

The average winter temperature in Hirafu Village is -2 degrees. On the mountain temperatures can get as low as - 25°C with wind chill factor. Neck warmers and face masks during skiing are recommended.

I want to do a decent grocery shop, is there a big supermarket nearby?

Kutchan town is 12km from the Lodge and has 3 supermarkets. Local buses and night buses go frequently from the ski resort to Kutchan. Taxis are also available but it will cost around JPY4,000 one way.

I want to buy some souvenirs, are there souvenir shops in town?

Yes, there are several souvenir shops with a large range of goods. The New Chitose Airport and hotels in Niseko Village/Hirafu area also have souvenir shops. There are a few shops in the Niseko town area which have local crafts as well. If you do not have time for shopping and your main focus is getting fresh tracks you can always checkout www.arcticoriental.com for unique one of a kind designer cushions and soft furnishings made form up cycled Japanese Kimonos and Obis for that unforgettable gift.

I have a minor sprain or ache, am there an English speaking physio in Niseko?

Yes, Niseko Physio staff are Australian registered physiotherapists with extensive knowledge of winter sport strains and injuries.

Where can I check the Niseko Snow report and Niseko forecast?

The current Niseko snow forecast, snow depth and weather forecast can be found at snow-forecast.com.