WHAT happens to the metres of snow that falls on the mountains in Hokkaido come springtime?
IT MELTS, but fortunately it isn’t wasted.
This sudden and protracted supply of water turns the ordinarily placid rivers into fast-flowing rapid-filled monsters, perfect for an exhilarating rafting experience.
Rafting is the biggest attraction in Niseko, outside of skiing and snowboarding, bringing in busloads of (mostly domestic) tourists every weekend. School groups especially love the thrill of rafting – busloads of children during the summer make their way to Niseko for whitewater fun. The busiest period, however, is during the end of spring when the water levels in the rivers and tributaries are at their highest and most frantic. Even though the temperatures are quite pleasant at that time of year, the waters can still be frigid, even to thrill seekers with anti-freeze flowing through their veins.
No need to worry about being cold though, before you set off on your voyage down the river, you’re given a dry suit that tightly seals around your neck, wrists and ankles to keep water out, and you dry and warm.
Of course, rafting doesn’t have to be an adrenaline-fuelled ride through violently engorged rivers, calmer options exist for those who would rather just gently glide along and take in the scenery that is rarely seen by
the average person, such as secluded beaches, hidden woodlands, cliffs with waterfalls and unsuspecting wildlife.
There are several local tour operators in and around Niseko, including NOASC, NAC and SAS who can cater a journey to suit your requests, be it an adrenaline-fuelled ride through white water rapids, or just a calm day out floating down a river.