The Explore Niseko Blog

CAT Skiing at Iwanai

Imagine you had your own private resort, a 15 seater "snow bus" with 13 of your best mates and 2 professional guides. Fresh tracks and deep powder all day... This is Iwanai.

Blog Photo 5 Iwanai View
White weather, Colourful day !

Once again our friends at Iwanai Resort have spoilt us and invited a couple of us to trial a new CAT for the day. We had never been CAT Skiing before or even been to Iwanai, so this was a completely new experience and one we were very much looking forward to.

From Niseko, a driver will pick you up and it takes about 40-50 minutes to get there, depending on the weather. One thing that struck me most about Iwanai is that it’s right next to the Sea of Japan! Once we got there, we were bought into the mountain centre which was lovely and very inviting. The upstairs area where we had a safety briefing had a lovely apres feel, fit with a bar, pool table and tatami section and downstairs was a restaurant and eating area. We were briefed on the history of Iwanai, the CAT, the tour, the guides and then the mountain terrain.

Iwanai is one of the oldest cities in Hokkaido dating back almost 400 years! The resort has been running for 37 years, with a change of management in the last year, who continue to revamp the resort and terrain while still retaining remanence of the past. There is only one chairlift that services the lower flatter section of the mountain, usually filled with smiling local children and the volunteers that teach the ski school. The only way to access the rest of the mountain is via the CAT. So we’re not lying when we say it’s basically a private resort and the mountain is all yours.

There are two guides with you on the tour who are friendly and knowledgeable about the resort and mountain safety so you know you’re in safe hands. The CAT is luxurious, incased with glass panels, you have 360 degree views all the way to top. On the way up, you can soak in the views of the mountain and scope your next line down.

Blog Photo 1 Cat Jpg
Boarding the CAT !
Blog Photo 2 Top Of The Cat Station
Ready to go!

Iwanai did not disappoint! We had fresh deep tracks all the way to the bottom, over and over again. We only had a 3 hour session, but we managed to get 4 incredible runs down. Such beautiful, wide, open terrain, bowls, tree skiing, and you don’t have to dodge anyone!

Blog Photo 3 Nathan Boarding
All the way !
Blog Photo 4 Kristy Skiing
In the Bowl

Halfway through the tour, we were pleasantly surprised by morning tea on the CAT. We were offered chocolate, caramel or banana donuts (these came out hot by the way!), coffee, water and also chocolate snacks. Just what you need after a few powder runs to re-fuel.


These tours run all day, so you are provided with fresh sushi for lunch at the restaurant. The sushi in Iwanai is famed in Hokkaido and so fresh, a must stop for any sushi lover. After a belly full of delicious local produce, you’re ready to hit some more powder until the end of the afternoon.

We had an incredible day out at Iwanai and highly recommend it. It was a unique experience in a stunning location, with wonderful, friendly and inviting staff. Thank you again to our friends at Iwanai Resort for the experience!

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