The best cat skiing in Niseko?
Niseko has a few cat skiing options in the local area. From day trips to multi-day overnight stays. We break down the best Niskeo cat skiing operations and what each one offers.
I’m going to help you find the best cat skiing in Niseko. Cat skiing, in general, is a pretty special thing to do but in Japan, it’s EPIC! Especially if you have been blessed with recent snowy weather. Going on a backcountry cat skiing trip, it will be just you and your friends, riding untracked, sometimes tits-deep pow! That’s what Niseko is famous for. Plus memories that will last a lifetime.
Niseko cat skiing – 3 local operations
Niseko has three local cat skiing operations to choose from.
- Big Wave Cats – Best for advanced steeper, featured terrain (pillows etc) but also open gladed options (permitted land, 20 minutes from Niseko)
- Niseko Weiss Powder Cats – Best for learning to ride power (on side of Hanazono resort)
- House of Powder – Chisenupuri – Best for intermediate terrain options (old ski resort, 20 minutes from Niseko)
Hokkaido cat skiing
There are two other options outside of Niseko
- Iwani Resort – an old ski resort only open to cat skiing. About an hour drive from Niseko, west towards the ocean
- Shimamaki Snow Cats – 2 night, 2-day package, about 4 hours out of Niseko
The most advanced cat skiing in Niseko is with Big Wave Cats.
Big Wave Cats cat skiing is a 15-minute drive from Hirafu, on permitted land, North East of the famous Mt. Yotei. They run two cats each day, with 5 clients in each, plus a qualified lead and tail guide (7 people in total plus a driver). One of he two tail-guides that will rotate on the day, is a professional photographer so you will also get a package of great photos from your day, all part of the price if you book through Niseko Photography and Guiding
The reason why this is the best cat skiing in Niseko is because of the snow quality and terrain options. It is not recommended for beginners or people inexperienced in powder skiing. From the steep West facing runs called The Stacks which boast some amazing pillows, gulleys and steep trees, to the open North faces where you can find the coldest powder and open tree sections. They aim for 8 runs a day and runs vary from 200 – 250m. Not the longest ski runs but this is Japan not Alaska… For what you lose in vertical descent, you gain in snow quality! J.A.P.O.W.
If you are looking for challenging terrain and a true Japan backcountry experience – this is the operation to go with. Please mention Still Stoked when booking through their booking agent Niseko Photography and Guiding.
Not ideal for people learning to ski powder – see additional options below.
- ¥54,000 per person based on a max 5x per cat
- Lunch included (soup, cakes, sandwich – you eat on the mountain)
- 2x professional guides
- Professional photographer and photo package included (sent to you via email within a week)
- Avalanche beacon provided
- Transport to and from your hotel included – pick up 8am
- 8 runs
Here are some photos from the Big Wave Cat skiing terrain and the cats.
The cats are from 1980 and cool AF!
Don’t forget travel insurance for backcountry skiing!
Get a 5% discount with World Nomads travel insurance with code STOKED5 only on this link.
Other Cat Skiing near Niseko
The other two cat skiing operations are run on the side of the Niseko ski resort by Hanazono (Niseko Weiss Powder Cats), and on an old disused ski resort called Chisenupuri about 45 minutes of town (House of Powder).
The Niseko Weiss Powder Cats run a more modern cat that holds up to 12 guests. The terrain is nicely spaced and open but it is not steep. So this is a good option if you are just learning to ride powder and are looking for a guided introduction to backcountry skiing (although it is on the side of the ski resort on old dis-used ski runs).
- ¥39,000 per person based on 4-12 guests
- ¥390,000 for a private cat of up to 12 people
- Lunch included (you eat in the Niseko Weiss Hotel)
- Transport to and from your hotel included – pick up 8.30am
- Avalanche beacon included
- 6-7 runs
House of Powder at Chisenupuri have slightly better terrain options and being a 45minute drive from Hirafu, you will feel like you are getting more of a backcountry experience. Their terrain is also suited to a more intermediate skier, or those learning to ride powder (they also offer a learn to ride JAPOW product). They run 2 cats and it is a free-for-all e.g. you get dropped off at the top of the run and all go down at the same time, whatever way you wish (in the boundary). Get tracked out quickly as you would expect with 28 people lapping an area.
- ¥35,000 per person – up to 28 people/passes per day
- Lunch included – at the Yuki Chichibu Lodge
- Transport to and from your hotel included
- Avalanche beacon included
- They do not specify the number of runs on their website
Other options for Cat skiing near Niseko?
There are a few other cat skiing options outside of Niseko.
Cat skiing at Iwanai Ski Resort is about an hour’s drive towards the ocean from Niseko. At Iwanai you are right by the ocean so not only are the views incredible (if it’s not puking with snow), but you are also very exposed to the icy, wet winds. Their terrain is an old ski resort but long runs. It looks pretty cool. Also, run as a free-for-all!
Shimamaki Snow Cats offers cat skiing in the Shimamaki range. This is a two night, two-day package and a four-night, four-day package departing on Sunday, Tues and Thursday. This looks pretty cool if you want to mix up a stay into your cat skiing experience. I have heard great things about their terrain – can’t wait to one day ride there!
Don’t forget to use code STILLSTOKED5 for catskiing or any backcountry tour booked through Niseko Photography and Guiding.
Have you been cat skiing in Niseko? Let me know in the comments below. Hopefully, see you out there this winter!