If you're not bringing your own ski or snowboard equipment with you to Niseko, don't worry, the hire shops here have a huge selection to choose from, and it's not all old kit either. Hotels almost always have a ski hire shop as part of their facilities, but for the best gear you have to check out the stores along Hirafu-zaka, the main road through Hirafu. There are many to choose from, but don't miss Rhythm, they've got the largest rental range in town from snowboards to backcountry equipment and offer premium (latest skis and snowboards) and standard rental packages to suit all budgets. They also have self check-in, overnight storage, free pick-up and drop-off service, and a courier service! Taking the insurance option on ski hire in Niseko is not strictly necessary, there are so few rocks and stones that it's very unlikely you'll tear up the base of your skis or snowboard.
There are plenty of snowsports schools in Niseko, with each ski village having a particular school affiliated with the resort. Other ski and snowboard schools operate across the entire Niseko United ski area and all the schools have English-speaking instructors to cover every level of ability.
One of these ski schools to look out for is Propeak; a unique ski school and guiding company that provides individual attention and go at a pace that suits your level. They are also full flexibility with start-finish times and offers private pick up and drop off at your accommodation. The real highlight though is exploring untracked resorts in the area with their knowledgeable staff!
ATMs are scattered around the Niseko area, and with this village map you'll find where the nearest one to you is located. Most hotels, shops, and restaurants will accept Visa and MasterCard, but it's always worth carrying some yen around with you.
For everyday essentials there's only one place to visit, you'll find everything you need at Seicomart in Hirafu, look out for the big orange and white sign!
There are many childcare providers in Niseko to take care of your little ones while you hit the slopes. The Niseko Kids Club has great facilities and opens from 8:30am to 4:30pm, while many hotels such as the Grand Hirafu and Hilton also offer childcare services of their own (make sure you book in advance!). For additional convenience, Niseko Babysitters provides in-accommodation childcare for minimum sessions of 3 hours.
There are a few massage therapists and physiotherapists in Niseko, you can find both in Hirafu at Australia House opposite Seicomart, check Niseko Physio and Niseko Massage to find out more details. For injuries that require more urgent medical attention you'll most likely need to visit Kutchan-Kosei General Hospital.
Onsens need a special mention as far as unique off-slope activities go. These traditional hot spring baths have been part of Japanese culture for centuries. The volcanoes peppered around Hokkaido give rise to geothermal mineral-rich water, and this is used in the many onsens found in all corners of Niseko and beyond. The etiquette may seem strange for the more reserved (you bath naked in a communal pool, men and women separately) but no trip to Niseko is complete without enjoying the onsen experience.
The big hotels in Niseko have their own onsen, but there are many others to choose from too. Some are outdoor, some indoor, and others have both an indoor and outdoor pool. Yukoro is one of these, where you can take a dip in the healing, steaming water while the snow floats down around you, surreal and thoroughly enjoyable!
Snow Rafting & Tubing
Fancy being dragged around by a snowmobile while sitting in a rubber ring? Niseko has you covered! You can even enjoy this hilarious activity with friends when you take a raft instead. Big, yellow, looks like the type of thing you'd go white water rafting in, but instead you're sliding and bouncing dangerously over the snow, with close to zero control! Check out Niseko Tourism for a list of companies organising this activity.
Sapporo Snow Festival
If you're visiting during February makes sure you check the Sapporo Snow Festival website to find out the dates for this amazing celebration. It's been running since 1950, growing every year, transforming the city with hundreds of ice sculptures, including interactive exhibits like an ice maze and ice slide! Music, food and revelry mark the event and it's not one to miss if you happen to be in Niseko at the right time.