If you take Highway 1 N from Christhcurch, it brings you N on the coastline. about 180 km from christchurch is a beautiful town called Kaikoura (which means "eating crayfish" in Maori). I would stay at the Top Spot, a little hostel that's just S of town. Grab some seafood while you're here, too. The beaches here are beautiful, and there are tons of Seal colonies. Before you get into town when coming from the S, go to the Kaikoura peninsula lookout. The views from here are spectacular, showing the Seaward Kaikoura range and also the mountains to the South. If you have time, walk around the Kaikoura peninsula trail. This is really crazy because the rock formations change continuously as you walk the 2 or so mile trail. There are lots of seal colonies, as well as highlands from which to survey your progress. If you want a really strenuous, boring but spectacular view providing hike, go up Mt. Fyffe. the top of the mountain is about 5,000 feet in elevation, and is about 4 miles in from the pacific ocean. The top is frequently covered in snow. There's a hut at about 4,000 feet that you can stay at...just make sure you're ready to climb about a vertical mile before you start out.
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