Ja­pan’s ski re­sorts lure Aussie pow­der­hounds

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Asia -

WATCHout Thredbo, Per­isher Blue and Hotham. Even New Zealand’s pop­u­lar Mount Cook and Mount Hutt ski fields could be in trou­ble.

Aus­tralian skiers are head­ing to Ja­pan in droves th­ese days, lured by its abun­dant snow­falls and af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion.

‘‘From mid-De­cem­ber to the end of Jan­uary, the snow [in Ja­pan] does not stop fall­ing,’’ says one avid skier, just back from the pop­u­lar ski re­sort of Niseko on the north­ern is­land of Hokkaido. Plenty of snow is also pre­dicted for skiers and board­ers well into April and op­er­a­tors have good pack­ages for March, such as Sk­iJa­pan.com’s deals of seven nights for the price of five and free lift passes and equip­ment rentals for chil­dren un­der 12. More than 44,000 Aus­tralians vis­ited Ja­pan in the Jan­uary-March 2012 ski sea­son, ac­cord­ing to lat­est fig­ures from the Tourism & Trans­port Fo­rum Aus­tralia. While Niseko is a favourite, Sap­poro and Hakuba also rank highly.

‘‘Ja­pan is known for some of the light­est, dri­est pow­der snow in the world — and lots of it. For many skiers and snow­board­ers, that is the holy grail,’’ TTF chief ex­ec­u­tive John Lee says.

‘‘It also has 500 ski re­sorts, com­pared with just a dozen places in Aus­tralia with lifted ter­rain.’’

Lee reck­ons the Aus­tralian dol­lar, at its high­est against the Ja­panese yen in years, is also help­ing at­tract Aussie skiers. He adds that while our re­sorts have had sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in snow-mak­ing equip­ment to en­sure good cover and an ex­tended sea­son, ‘‘pow­der days in Aus­tralia are quite rare and tens of thou­sands of Aussie pow­der­hounds head overseas each year to get their fix’’.

It’s not just the heavy snow­falls we’re in­ter­ested

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