Although one of the best times to visit Hokkaido is during its most famous ski resort period, in the summer the area is outdoor lover’s paradise. Here are a few of the many activities you can book, things you can do and adrenaline pumping adventures you can embark on in the summer in Niseko.
For further reading when you’re done with this article, here’s our complete guide of the best things to do in Japan for first time or even seasoned travelers. We have also written about the most delicious Japanese food to try, a complete shopping guide to Tokyo and some inspirational facts about Japan to know before you go.
1. Horse riding in summer in Niseko
Horseback riding is possible at the Niseko Village. Both novice riders as well as more advanced ones can take lessons or go on a ride with an instructor. You can find more information on their site.
2. White water rafting
Usually done in the Shiribetsu River, the water warms up during spring time enough for the waters to flow again and produce fast rapids. You will be kitted up with warm clothes as the water temperature rarely reaches above 10 degrees.
Golfing came with the bubble development of the 80s and 90s and brought 172 golf courses of 18 holes to Hokkaido. Niseko, as a mild summer destination, has the perfect weather to enjoy a few hours in the green, walking around and breathing in the fresh clean mountain air. Golf courses are surrounded by birch trees and bamboo like bushes, so unexpected in such cool climate, and the views over perfectly shaped Mount Yotei are not comparable to any of the other flat golf courses in Southeast Asia. There are three main golf courses in Niseko, two of which are within easy reach from the Hilton Niseko and The Green Leaf Niseko Village. Check out the Niseko Golf Course, The Niseko Village Golf Course or the Niseko Tokyu Golf for more details.
4. Kiroro Canyoning
Canyoning involves a bit of everything, from climbing up to jumping down or simply descending in the water. The idea of canyoning is to let yourself be carried down a water stream by the water flow. You bet Niseko’s cool snow waters and mountain setting are perfect for that.
5. Konbu rappelling (abseiling)
Also done in the “warmer” waters of the river you will given all the necessary equipment to descent at your own pace. This activity is good for kids above 6 years old so it cannot be as dangerous and heart stopping as it sounds. Get ready to get wet too.
6. Zip lining
At Pure, in the Niseko Village area next to the Hilton Niseko and The Green Leaf Niseko Village, you can enjoy a host of outdoor activities including a long 2.5h zip-line course high above the trees. The views will be impressive all along because you are facing Mount Yotei.
7. Mountain biking
Niseko has a large variety of cycling and mountain biking paths. Most of the adventure centers in the area can organise this for you together with a guide but you can also simply pick up one of the maps with all the marked routes for cycling and trekking and head out on your own. The tracks can be a combination of flatter parts, along the main roads, and steeper mountain areas through lush forests and thick foliage. The views from some of the view points are amazing.
Just like with biking, there are trekking paths everywhere and some are also marked on the map. To make the most of it and to also get a glimpse into the local flora and fauna and be able to venture farther from your hotel you can book a guide. We did it and we visited a beautiful marsh up in the hills, a natural onsen and a few lookout points that were stunning. Our guide told us there are bears in the area. maybe another reason to get a guide?
Some of the adventure companies also offer night treks, another way to exploring nature.
In Niseko you can go canoeing in the river or in the sea as it is not too far from the ski resort area. In the sea, you will be joining a sea kayaking group, with longer and thinner kayaks. In the river, expect canoes of the “ducky” type, wider and shorter and looking more like an inflatable than a sturdy hard shell kayak. Regardless of which one you choose you are sure to get wet and have fun exploring the landscapes of the sea and river shore from a different perspective.
10. Naked bathing
Perhaps the most heart racing activity one can partake in Niseko is not of the physical type. I am talking about getting completely naked and entering a shared bathtub full of strangers. This can be most unnerving and stressing to many than any of the above activities.
All of the above activities can be booked via one of the two main outdoor adventure centers in town, either the Niseko Adventure Center or the NOASC. If you are staying at the Hilton Niseko or The Green leaf Niseko Village, head to their Nature Center to make all arrangements. Zip lining does not require a booking you can simply go to the Pure area by the Hilton Niseko. For golfing bookings, check out the website for Niseko Village where two of the golf courses are located, and book your tee time.
Looking for the best place to stay during your summer in Niseko? Check out my review of The Green Leaf Niseko Village and the Hilton Niseko, the best places to stay in Niseko.
Once in a Lifetime Journey was a guest of The Green Leaf Niseko Village. As always, all opinions are our own.