We are off to Hakuba this season (Feb 14) but Niseko is on our list, hopefully 2015
would love to know some of the better places to stay. I believe Niseko is like Little Aus and bit more pricey than Hakuba.
We don't do dorm, a double room including breakfast within walking distance to one of the main lifts/gondy and close to bus as well
I have seen a map of the town layout but as pretty as it was I need real info
How much are lift passes?
where are the better tree runs?
....all the usual questions really
What is your favourite slope?
We spent around $3500 last year for 3 weeks in Hakuba including fares and lift passes and everything else so that is about our budget (each)
Ugh reading about riding when I'm back home seriously sucks
I'll help you out as much as I can. Yeah, Niseko will definitely be slightly pricier than Hakuba as it's more globalized etc.
In Hirafu village itself, as I worked for Hokkaido Tracks Holidays, I'd recommend them. They're pricy but most of the properties in the upper village are within walking distance to lifts. These include: Yamashizen, Yotei Tracks, Miharashi, Kira Kira. You may want to look them up on tripadvisor etc. They're also like a 1 stop centre so you can book your transfers, lift passes, equipment etc through them.
Alternatively, a friend of mine runs the Samurai Snow tour agency, you might want to go through them if you want it easy. They book with HT as well as most of the other accommodations in the area.
There are a lot of tree runs everywhere which are pretty good (they use a gate system so going out most gates usually is the sidecountry and you get some great tree runs). The usual suspects "Strawberry fields", "Blueberry fields", "Miharashi", and all the gates in the Annupuri side of the mountain are fantastic.
My favourite although not exactly a tree run is hiking the peak and dropping into the backbowl. On a good day, nothing beats it.
If you're willing to spend a little and travel our of Hirafu for a day though, hit up Rusutsu. Personal favourite of mine.