Leave the beaten track with The Powder Project

We guide flexible backcountry ski and snowboard trips in Hokkaido, Japan and Canterbury, New Zealand.

Great experiences in the mountains happen when you get the right people in the right places with the right conditions. We only take private trips, so you can provide the people and we’ll take care of the rest.

We’re not big on crowds. You can’t mass produce an amazing day in the mountains, You have to go find them in their natural habitat. That’s why each trip we run is different. We don’t have a set program or some one-size-fits-all formula. Instead, we have experienced, qualified guides with local knowledge of the best places to ride, eat and stay.

Our focus is on the backcountry. We’re not averse to catching lifts on the right day, but when the backcountry skiing is as good as it is in Hokkaido and Canterbury resort days don’t happen very often. Whether you’re a seasoned trail-breaker looking for someone to show you the best places, or a first timer wondering how the whole skiing uphill thing works, we’ve got you covered. We can help you figure out the gear, teach you about moving safely in the mountains, and get you on your backcountry feet; or we can take you to the top of something rad and get you down safely. Our trips are flexible. We plan each day around your group and getting the most out of the weather and conditions.

We’re serious about safety. The Powder Project employs qualified ski guides with professional avalanche safety certifications. We’re in the hills day after day, year after year digging pits, watching the wind, and tracking layers in the snowpack. Our priority is to get you home in one piece with the best memories the mountains can provide. Sometimes that means steep, deep pow; other times it’s mid-storm meadow turns and occasionally it means relaxing in an onsen. That’s all fine by us.

We have built our lives around hiking for turns and moving through the mountains. If you're looking to leave the crowds behind and experience the best of some of the world’s great skiing and boarding destinations, you've come to the right place.

 
 

Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido absolutely deserves its reputation for epic dry powder. It's one of the most consistent and snow-sure destinations on earth.

We’re based in Central Hokkaido near Asahikawa on the edge of the Daisetsuzan National Park. Within an hour's drive there are long snaking chutes, alpine areas, steep faces, mellow glades, and everything in between. We’re very lucky to ski with local friends in these places and they have specifically asked us not to publish where we go, but we can assure you that the lines are good, the snow is deep, and the crowds are far, far away. This is our backyard. We've spent years pushing into the mountains of Central Hokkaido. If you really understand the difference between quality and quantity, get in touch.

This isn’t a famous ski destination and you won’t find major resorts here. We stay in local guesthouses, onsens or traditional inns and eat at family run restaurants with extremely delicious food. You’ll get a window into real Japanese culture and experience the warmth, graciousness and generosity that makes this such an amazing place.

 
 
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See some of Hokkaido's best terrain. We specialise in guiding around northern Central Hokkaido.

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We've got the transport and local knowledge to get you to the best conditions. Ski more pow more often.

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Our guides speak (just enough) Japanese. Eat where the locals eat. Know what's inside your rice ball before you bite into it.

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Need rental gear? Break something? We know the best shops and can even sort you out with field repairs in a pinch.

 
 

TRIP GUIDING

We offer three types of guiding:

  • Road trips, where we travel around in a van, skiing and boarding by day and staying local guesthouses at night. These trips give us the flexibility to move around and follow good snow.

  • Base camp trips, where we set you up in local AirBnB style accommodation. We’ll meet up each day to go skiing/boarding, and show you around the best places to eat and relax each night.

  • Day guiding, where you arrange your own accommodation and we just head out skiing/boarding for the day.

Our road trips can go anywhere - we usually spend a bunch of time in central Hokkaido (because it’s really good) but we’ll go to Otaru or elsewhere if that’s where the best riding is. Our base camps are in our home town of Higashikawa in the middle of Hokkaido. It’s the perfect place to explore from without having to pack and repack your bag every few days. We offer day guiding for people staying in the Asahikawa/Asahidake/Furano area.

  • Our maximum guide-to-client ratio is 5 people. For road trips, 4 or fewer people is perfect. Small groups are safer and more efficient in the backcountry and more fun to travel with, If you want to bring a bigger group we can do that with a base camp trip and split your group over multiple guides each day.

  • We don’t put groups together - it guarantees you know the people you’re travelling with and allows us to tailor the trip to suit you.

  • We can generally help out with airport transfers, pick-ups and drop offs at train stations etc. If you’re coming to Central Hokkaido look at flying to Asahikawa rather than Chitose - it’s a small airport that’s quick to get to and our base is only 15 minutes away.

  • Trips usually include accommodation, transport in our van, and guiding. Our accommodation providers usually include breakfast, and sometimes dinner and onsen entry. Lift tickets, airfares, other meals, onsens and other entertainment are not generally included.

See our custom trip tips to get the most out of your trip.

 
 

Check out our guided trips in Hokkaido:

 

New Zealand

With stunning scenery and world class terrain, New Zealand has plenty to offer skiers looking for something a little bit different. With options from hut based touring in the glaciated valleys amongst New Zealand’s highest mountains to tiny local ski hills with unique communities and outstanding terrain, Canterbury has all the ingredients for an awesome backcountry adventure.

This is authentic, local skiing and boarding in one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. This isn’t the world of massive corporate mega-resorts. It’s a place where New Zealander’s love of mountains and DIY attitude have produced communities of passionate and friendly locals with access to some amazing mountains. It’s not set up for international visitors, but we’ve been skiing and guiding here for years. We’ll figure out the weather, find the best snow, sort out the logistics (helicopters/ski-planes/hut bookings etc.), ski area roads, crazy infrastructure and conditions.

 
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With so many options for backcountry riding, we're your guide to the best terrain for your level and style.

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NZ's conditions are fickle, but it's always good somewhere. Tap into our local knowledge to find the best snow.

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Explore New Zealand’s biggest mountains, with epic touring in some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere.

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Meet the locals, use their barbecues, sample their brews, and get the most out of your New Zealand trip.

 

How it works

We do all our guiding in NZ in partnership with two local companies. They give us the support and logistical muscle to operate safely in some serious mountains, and help us stay small and nimble so we can move around as the conditions require:

Anna Keeling Guiding oversees our operations in the Craigieburn Range and Arthur’s Pass areas. The undisputed matriarch of the Craigieburns, Anna has serious history in these hills and literally sets the standards for guiding in New Zealand and the US.

As one of the biggest and oldest guiding companies in NZ, Alpine Guides (AGL) hold the logistical fort in Mount Cook Village. AGL have mastered just about every imaginable combination of skiing, climbing, mountaineering, hut trips, helicopters, ski-planes, and winter camping. Working alongside this crew gives us access to some of the best guiding knowledge and resources anywhere.

We offer two kinds of trips:

  • Hut trips, where we head into the big mountains (usually by air - helicopter or ski-plane) to stay in a hut and go touring. These trips are generally based out of Mt Cook Village. The weather can often shut down any skiing around the huts, so we usually plan to spend part of these trips touring from huts (based on good weather) and the rest of the time skiing in smaller, more sheltered mountain ranges, including the Craigieburn Range.

  • Base camp trips, where we stay in local AirBnB style accommodation and make day trips to go touring. We’ll make a plan each morning, head out to wherever the conditions are best, and then come home to relax each night.

There’s limited on-mountain accommodation in NZ, and the weather is fickle. Staying low and driving to ski or board each day gives us much more flexibility and helps us make the most of the conditions.

 
 

explore New Zealand’s best skiing and boarding with us: