Mtunzini is a small coastal town, situated almost exactly halfway along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, approximately 140 km north of Durban. The town lies perched on a ridge overlooking a nature reserve, the beach with a beautiful dune forest, an estuary lined with a mangrove swamp forest and the Indian Ocean.
The name of the town comes directly form the Zulu word “emthunzini” meaning “a place in the shade”. Mtunzini is historically in an area regarded as the traditional home of the Zulu Nation, South Africa’s most populous people.
The town ticks all the boxes for a spot that is “off the beaten track” - a pristine beach, modest development, a rustic and undiscovered atmosphere, as well as a laid-back lifestyle! It offers visitors a host of outdoor and leisure activities and is ideally situated, just a hop off the N2, for exploring nearby game reserves and cultural and historical attractions.
Mtunzini is a paradise for fishermen, birdwatchers and nature lovers. A unique feature of the town is a grove of Raphia Palms beside the railway line; they are one of the few declared natural monuments in the country, and it is the best place to spot the rare Palmnut Vulture which nests near the top of the palm. The palms were introduced to Mtunzini about 100 years ago from the swamp forests of Kosi Bay and it's one of only six palm species indigenous to South Africa.
Mtunzini boasts a range of accommodation establishments as well as restaurants and local shops.
Things to do and see
- Mtunzini Beach
- Mtunzini Hiking Trails
- Rainbow Route
- Raphia Palm Forest
- Umlalazi Nature Reserve
- Amatikulu Nature Reserve
- Mtunzini Golf Course
- Durnford Lighthouse, 30 km
Mtunzini receives approximately 1104 mm of rain annually. The rainfall is significant, with precipitation even during the driest month.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 19˚C and 31˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 12˚C and 25˚C.
There are daily flights into Richards Bay Airport, approximately 50 km away and into Durban’s King Shaka International Airport approximately 105 km away, both via the N2. Car Hire facilities are available at the airport.
As mentioned, the Zulu word “emthunzini” mean “place in the shade”, but in the history of this town it refers more specifically to the place under the Milkwood Trees where “White Chief” John Dunn would meet with the Tribal Elders of the area. During the second half of the 19th century.
On the death of John Dunn, a magistrate was appointed to be permanently bases in the town and to continue the work of John Dunn. At firs the settlement was named Umlalazi after the river, but this caused some confusion and the postal services kept delivering mail to Umlazi just south of Durban and by 1907 the name was changed back to the name John Dunn used, Mtunzini.
The whole town of Mtunzini was declared a Conservancy in 1995 and it is well-known for its commitment to the preservation of its natural heritage.
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