S 28 degrees 55’5
E 31 degrees 44’04”
The seaside town of Mtunzini overlooks a pristine, sub-tropical coastline and is bounded by dune forest and an estuary lined with mangrove swamp forest.
Mtunzini gets its name from the Zulu word emthunzini, meaning “Place of Shade”. The name’s associations are rooted in a historical site under the Indaba milkwood tree at Umlalazi lagoon where 18th century adventurer, hunter, trader and white Zulu chieftain, John Dunn, founder of Mtunzini, would meet with the Zulu tribal elders, hold court hearings and celebrate family events and harvest thankgiving.
Mtunzini prides itself on its collective efforts and legacy to protect and conserve its unique natural treasures – and in 1995, the entire town was declared a Conservancy! Raphia palms, one of few indigenous palm species from the swamp forests along KosiBay’s lakes, were introduced to Mtunzini around 100 years ago to produce fibre for brooms. The palms make a magnificent show throughout Mtunzini with their large majestic fronds.
WORLD FAMOUS ATTRACTION
The Raphia palms flourished and in their flowering and fruiting cycle attracted the rare Palmnut Vulture, which to this day feasts off the yellow flesh of the mature seeds and nests in its canopies. The long-fronded Raphias and its winged inhabitants resulted in Mtunzini’s Raphia palm grove being declared a natural monument, one of only a few in South Africa.
Walk the Raphia forest’s winding boardwalk of about 500 metres (wheel-chair friendly) and marvel at the cathedral like effect of the palms overhead. Birders come from far and wide to visit this outdoor monument in the quest of spotting the fascinating Palmnut vulture, South Africa’s rarest breeding bird of prey.
Mtunzini forms part of the Southern Zululand Birding Route, a network of 14 routes in three regions of top birding spots where birders can hire local trained guides at affordable rates and optimize their birding experience. Zululand is a popular birding destination due to its abundance of different species – around 605 bird types.
Mtunzini’s unspoilt Umlalazi lagoon is a hugely popular and idyllic attraction for birders, water sport and fishing enthusiasts. Zebras, bushbuck, duiker, otters and water mongoose may be spotted around the lagoon.
The KZN Parks Board controls access to the beach and lagoon area and visitors need to pay a small levy to gain access to the estuary. A Rhino Card and/or Ezemvelo Wildlife Card (www.kznwildlife.com) will save you the entrance fee.
All boats need to be registered at the Ski Boat Club before being allowed onto the water and skippers need to show proof of their Certificate of Competency or Skippers License.
TIP: Avoid delays to your water sports fun, by organising the admin before! Contact the Umlalazi Ski Boat Club Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1006.
Large concentrations of summer flat fish, sand sharks, sharks, salmon and shad are found in the area know as the Banks – this is, of course, a big drawcard for anglers.
Various hiking trails are on offer at Umlalazi Nature Reserve. A short 15 minute walk starts at the Umlalazi Nature Reserve’s main parking area past John Dunn’s pool and takes you through a beautiful mangrove forest.
The circular Siyaya Coastal Dune Forest Trail starts at the SouthBeach parking and follows the coastal forest along the Siyaya stream. Hikers may see bushbuck and the shy duiker along the trail.
A more demanding route starts on the NorthBeach footpath – a 8km walk to the Umlalazi River Mouth.
The long stretch of unspoilt beach is ideal for swimming, surfing and fishing (there are no shark nets though).
On the different trails of Umlalazi Nature Reserve (1028 hectares) and Amatikulu Nature Reserve (1 700 hectares) hikers can see fiddler crabs, mudskippers, and even zebra.
Umlalazi Nature Reserve is open daily from 05h00 to 22h00.
About 20km from Mtunzini is OngoyeForest, an ancient coastal scarp forest where visitors may catch a glimpse of the rare Woodward’s barbet. The forest is also home to the giant cycad, extinct in the wild since the 1900s.
The Mtunzini Golf Cluboffers an immaculate 18 hole course in a lush, rolling landscape with views of the beach, sea and lagoon.
The course is open all week, with competitions held on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons! Contact Caddy Master for tee-off times +27 (0)35 340 1188
AMATIKULU SQUASH CLUB
Phone: +27 (0)35 331 1071
MTUNZINI BOWLING CLUB
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1261
MTUNZINI COUNTRY CLUB
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1779
MTUNZINI GOLF CLUB
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1188
MTUNZINI SQUASH CLUB
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1779
UMLALAZI SKI BOAT CLUB
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1006
Places to eat:
Fat Cat Coffee Shop
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 2897
Road Island Take Away
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1764
The Clay Oven
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 1262
Phone: 0353 401779
Phone: 0353 401177
Twigs Coffee Lounge & Designs
Phone: 0353 401004
Trade Winds Country Inn
Phone: +27 (0)35 340 2533
Distances in kilometres
Mtunzini – Eshowe: 45km
Mtunzini – Gingindhlovu: 22km
Mtunzini – Hluhuwe – iMfolozi Game Reserve: 120km
Mtunzini – RichardsBay: 45km
Mtunzini – Durban: 140km
Mtunzini – Pietermaritzburg: 210km
Mtunzini – Johannesburg (via Vryheid): 600km
Mtunzini – Johannesburg (via Durban): 720km
Mtunzini – Vryheid: 220
Mtunzini – Cape Town: 1880km
Compiled with information supplied.
With acknowledgment to
Umlalazi Tourism Association