Sefton Bivouac - Detailed Info

The historic shelter of Sefton Bivouac was built in 1917 and is the oldest standing structure in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The little hut which sleeps 4 (at a pinch) rests at 1,660 metres, below the dramatic ice draped peak of The Footstool.

We guide the Sefton Biv' route as an overnight trip, allowing time for a comfortable ascent to the hut, and to enjoy your experience off the more 'beaten trails' of the Park.

Season: November through April

Overnight hike locations - click for larger image.

Sefton Bivouac - Route Description

This is one of the prime locations in the Park, and offers stunning scenery after a challenging hike. The biv is seldom visited, except by climbers venturing on to The Footstool. There is no marked track.

Sefton Biv' offers commanding views right into the icefall of the Tewaewae (Stocking) Glacier, down the Tasman Valley to Lake Pukaki and up to Mount Sefton and The Footstool, which tower over the shelter.

You will set out mid-morning, after meeting your guide, and sorting gear and the required formalities. The hike from the Hooker Valley follows a vague route, climbing across stream beds to a zigzagging approach. Up and up, over rocky outcrops, snowgrass, tussock and scree before reaching the rocky plateau around the hut site.

The total height gain is almost 1,000 metres, and requires 5 to 7 hours of hiking. Scrambling sections will involve using hands, and some exposure.

There may be snow on the route and around the biv' in the early (November to December) and latter parts of the season.

In November and December the Mount Cook Lilies can be spectacular on the climb. Several pairs of rare endemic Rock Wrens live around Sefton Biv' - a treat for birders.

The descent is by the same route after a relaxed breakfast. 

Sefton Bivouac - The Hut

Sefton Biv is a simple shelter with a drinking water tank, mountain hut radio, and toilet. There are no bunks. We have to carry sleeping mats and sleeping bags.

Your guide will provide a cooker, stove, and utensils as required.

The hut is available on a first-come first-served basis - there is no booking system. With only four sleeping spaces the hut may fill if another party arrives. All Alpine Guides parties will cary bivouac bags in case the hut is not available. 

Fortunately the original Sefton Bivouac - a huge rock - is still on site. This can provide shelter for another 6 hikers. It is a wonderful experience to camp below the bivvy rock, watching the stars wheel overhead and listening to the rumbling ice of the Stocking Glacier.

Experience and Fitness Required

This is a demanding hike that suits experienced trekkers.

Participants need a high level of fitness, and used to a long day walking, carrying a pack of 10-12 kg.

Some sections of the route are exposed. Several 'scrambling' sections require using hands for balance. Your guide will carry a rope if assistance is required

Guide Ratio

Sefton Biv is guided at a maximum of 1 guide per 3 guests.


All prices are per person in NZ dollars. Prices are valid to 30 April 2017.

For groups with 4 or more people 2 guides are required. Please contact us for pricing.

Included in Price

  • Guide services
  • National Park/hut fees
  • Meals and snacks from lunch on day one to lunch on day 2
  • Technical equipment as required (see equipment list)
  • Camping/bivouac gear

Looking up to Sefton Bivvy, Footstool and Mount Sefton.

Reporting Details

Unless otherwise arranged you should meet your guide at 08:30 at our office in Mount Cook Village.

Poor Weather Alternatives

Weather conditions in the mountains can change rapidly. We can receive snow at any time of the year. If hiking to Sefton Bivouac is not safe Alpine Guides will arrange an alternate hiking activity. This may involve travel away from Mount Cook Village. There will be no additional cost.

Your Guides & Safety

Our guides are professional qualified mountain and alpine trekking guides certified by the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA affiliated). All guides hold pre-hospital emergency care level first aid certification and carry a first aid kit. Our guides have constant communication with Alpine Guides base through our radio system, or satellite phone.

Age Restrictions

Minimum age is 15 years.

Equipment List

New Zealand is known for its variable weather - even over the space of one day. You must be prepared for a range of weather conditions - from warm to cool temperatures, and for sun and rain protection. UV is intense in New Zealand, so pack plenty of sun protection.

Booking and Dates

Sefton Biv' trips are available through the hiking season November to April. Bookings are dependent on guide availability.

Our hikes are booked on a private basis. You can choose a date and book as an individual, or with a friend, or small group. We do not offer individual spaces on group hikes.

We believe that bigger is not necessarily better. A smaller group means a more intimate experience, and space to appreciate this incredible landscape.

Please check with us for the dates that suit your travel plans prior to making a reservation.

Terms and Conditions

Sefton Bivouac and the Tewaewae (Stocking) Glacier.